But Prof. Abbas Milani, a historian and the director of Iranian studies at Stanford University, said the book overshadowed Mr. Pezeshkzad’s more serious writing, including his scholarly research on literature by the Persian poets Hafez and Saadi. Mr. Pezeshkzad, he said, wished that his literary and nonfiction work would get equal attention. It never did.
When Stanford University awarded Mr. Pezeshkzad its Bita Prize for Persian Arts in 2014, about 1,200 people attended the ceremony, the most for any Iran-related event at the school.
Iraj Pezeshkzad was born on Jan. 29, 1927, in Tehran to Hassan Pezeshkzad, a physician, and Gohar Fekri Ershad, an aristocrat from the Qajar dynasty.
Mr. Pezeshkzad had one sister and three half brothers, and from age 9 lived in a complex surrounded by a 30,000-square-foot leafy garden. Some of his extended family also lived in the complex.
As a child he was a keen observer of his surroundings and those who populated them and later found inspiration in them as a writer. In an essay about his childhood, for example, he recalled the delusional uncle who held court with children, asking them to pay respect by kissing his hands.
After graduating from high school in Iran, Mr. Pezeshkzad earned a law degree from Université de Dijon (now the University of Burgundy) in France. He soon began writing satirical short stories for Iranian publications and translating books by French writers like Voltaire and Molière into Persian. Returning to Iran, he married Mahin Chaybani. She died in 1979.
In Iran he was a judge for five years and then worked for the foreign ministry, serving as head of its cultural division until he was purged from the job after the revolution. All along he wrote a popular satirical column for a literary magazine and turned out plays, articles, research papers and books.