(Courtesy "Tremors")

The editors of the first anthology of Iranian-American fiction say there is a maturing literary voice emerging from the Iranian-American community. Many Iranian immigrants came to the U.S. after the Shah was overthrown in 1979, and roughly half of them live in California. We talk with Bay Area editors and authors of “Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers” about their stories, culture and community.

Show Highlights

Guests:
Anita Amirrezvani, novelist of "Equal of the Sun," and co-editor of "Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers"
Persis Karim, professor of English, comparative literature and Persian studies at San Jose State University and co-editor of "Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers"
Amir Soltani, author and co-creator of "Zahra's Paradise," and co-editor of "Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers"

  • Jes Richardson

    Hi Michael,

    Two of your guests will be speakers at our fundraiser on May 18 (below). I have been a BIG fan of yours for years. Please mention the fundraiser. Thanks!

    We invite you to the

    DEAR IRAN PROJECT

    FUNDRAISER

    Dedicated
    to the People of Iran

    Saturday,
    May 18th, 7:00-9:30PM

    Unitarian
    Universalist Church,

    240
    Channing Way, San Rafael, CA

    Suggested
    Donation: $20-$50 (tax
    deductible)

    http://www.bridgeofhearts.org

    Come enjoy, learn,
    and participate in the Dear Iran Project,

    created
    by Jes Richardson (the “Gandhi Guy”)
    and Mara
    Chitayat.

    Our
    project is a card writing campaign, established to build respect and
    understanding between Iranians and Americans.

    Share a Middle
    Eastern meal catered by the West End Cafe, accompanied
    by Persian music; watch
    video clips of Iran;

    hear guest speakers,
    with Q&A afterwards; have your photo
    taken with the Gandhi Puppet.

    Speakers

    Norman Solomon media activist; co-founder: Roots
    Action;
    founding director: Institute
    for Public Accuracy; author:
    “War
    Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep
    Spinning Us to Death” and “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters
    with America’s
    Warfare State”.

    Anita
    Amirrezvani
    Iranian-American novelist: ”The Blood of Flowers” and “Equal of
    the Sun”.

    Persis Karim Iranian-American
    poet, editor: “Let
    Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the
    Iranian Diaspora”; co-editor: “A
    World Between: Poems, Short Stories
    and Essays by Iranian-Americans”.

    Jes Richardson creator of
    the Gandhi Puppet; founder:”Bridge
    of Hearts”; co-creator:
    Dear Iran Project.

    Special thanks to
    Karin Conn, PR http://karinconnpr.com/ and our volunteer
    staff.

    If you can’t come,
    but you’d still like to make a contribution: http://www.bridgeofhearts.org/donate-3/

    Click on our
    Facebook Community
    Page and give us a LIKE: https://www.facebook.com/DearIranProject?ref=ts&fref=ts

    THANK YOU ALL!

    Hope to
    see you May 18th

    Jes
    & Mara

    • Marlene Alvarado

      I’m visiting from Long Beach, CA and heard the program. I have had some Iranian friends. One was an architect who was tortured by the Civac under the Shaw of Iran. Whose father overthrew a Democratic government with the aid of the British and the US governments. I can understand why some Iranians weren’t that sorry about the hostage crisis, so I wouldn’t judge them. Carter’s biggest mistake was to allow the Shaw to come to this country for cancer treatment. The Islamic militants capitalized on this as they fought their way to power and justified the hostage taking once they came into power. But that is another story. What I want to know will these writers be in Los Angeles soon, and what Iranian organization can I contact about a book tour there. I do a local public access TV program, Soy del Pueblo, (I Am of the People) and would love to interview these writers. My email address is marlenealvarado@verizon.net.

  • Susu Attar

    Great that you are bringing visibility to Iranian American writers. We have a thriving theatre community that brings this community’s experience and perspective to life on stage. See Golden Thread Productions’ upcoming world premiere of 444 DAYS by Torange Yeghiazarian.

  • Chris OConnell

    It is true that Iranian women are not granted equal rights. But let us be cultural relativists. How is it in Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Etc. When judged against those peers (especially Saudi), Iran does quite well with women’s rights. But they are an enemy of our State, and so the regime will be demonized no matter what.

    • But why be a cultural relativist at all? Iranian women don’t want to be compared to Arab women. Here in America, do we use cultural relativism when talking about the rights of Mormon women?

    • Marlene Alvarado

      This is an absurd concept. It’s OK because you only beat your wife with your hand and not a stick, like they do in Saudi Arabia. Human rights don’t come in degrees, unless you are one of the people who are limiting them. This US government does this all the time. It criticizes the Chines for its political prisoners while we execute innocent men, torture “terrroist”, and force feed political prisoners in Guantanamo. EXCUSE ME! We all have blood on our hands.

  • Hi. This is Firuzeh Mahmoudi and I am the Director of United for Iran, an organization working on human rights in Iran. We are partnering with Zahra’s Paradise on the vote4zahra.org campaign.

    Here are some actions people can take.
    http://vote4zahra.org/take-action/volunteer/

    Send postcards
    http://vote4zahra.org/portfolio-item/5-minutes-postcard/

    picture of a woman holding Zahra’s picture from Iran
    http://vote4zahra.org/assets/zahra3.jpg

  • Anne Kingsley

    I had a young Iranian woman as a student in a composition course I taught. I was struck and am still struck by her writing in the sense that she was able to confront the complex and very real realities of her identity, but she was also able to access a more mystic and imaginative depth behind reality as well. I wonder if many Iranian women writers also fuse these two perspectives–the mystic and the real–as one.

    • white elephant

      i believe persian poetry and specially mystical poetry of rumi, hafez, ferdosi ,…is in the blood of most Iranians. We memorize many verses from these poets and use them on a daily basis to express daily life experiences. So it is natural for us to flow between mystic and real world as you put it. in fact i do not bin these two as separate worlds.

  • Anthony Marzo

    I have several Iranian acquintances. My first interaction was an Iranian couple when we took them out for her birthf ay. I wad shocked to heat these highly educated people defend the hostage taking and the dragging of American military personnel through the streets of Tehran after the failed rescue attempt. Since then, for me, the relationship has been strained.

    • Guest

      Anthony Marzo, are you familiar with the 1953 CIA coup de tat that toppled the democratically-elected government of Dr. Mosadegh which restored Shah to power? Its command and control center was the US embassy in Tehran. The students stormed the embassy because they were afraid their struggles for democracy would be crushed again by another meddling of the CIA. When you think things like that, as you yourself said that the couple was highly educated and normal to your standards, always thing to yourself that people do not wake up one day crazy and out to inflict pain on others unless there is a justification and reason for it – that would be true for all normal people all over the world. Had the CIA not staged that coup, Iran would’ve had 60 years of working democracy under its belt. Subsequently, who knows if the 1979 revolution would have take place, neither the hostage situation, the mullahs consolidation of power, etc. The whole power structure in the middle east changed forever for such an arrogantly short-sighted US policy even to this day. Do you think Saddam ever had the gall to invade Iran had it not been for the chaos after the revolution and the power vacuum consequent of it? So forgive me if I don’t sympathize with your feelings towards the restrained relationship. There’s a Turkish proverb: Stick the needle into yourself (to see how it hurts) before you thrust the packing-needle into others, dear.

      • erictremont

        You seem to assume that the Ayatollah Kohmeini would not have staged the 1979 revolution had Iran been a democracy. That is a debatable assumption since Kohmeini was essentially a fascist, much worse than the Shah.

    • white elephant

      Anthony, I am sorry about your less than welcoming fist interaction with an iranian. Remember that their experiences and frustrations come from a whole place and time that you have no exposure to, but your government does and continues to shield the general public in US of the reality of the situation . This aside, it is never a good thing to rejoice in anyones loss, american or not. hundreds of civilians, women and children are killed and mutilated by american Drone attacks. Does this help us, be safer? NO, it makes more misery and further proof of the violent and self-justified, hollier than holly- nature of american government policies. But still, it is sad to loose american soldiers over seas, these soldiers are our children too. Similarly, it is sad to kill children bombed with our taxes everywhere else . Instead of looking for differences, exaggerating and warping them, then vilifying the other, so they become the ‘un-people’, worthy of mass murder, we need to see how much more we have in common and share and exchange ideas in peace. Those who profit from wars have our head filled with terror so we hand over our human rights and money to create a worse world. only we can get out of this trans. and start thinking.

    • Davoud

      There is no justification for stupidity. The act of attacking the embassy and, even worse, taking hostages was perfectly in line with a rising islamic regime agenda. As time has proven, the violence embedded in those acts, was the same employed by the same reactionary minds, as the ones violating basic human rights of Iranian people.
      The violence is the vivid manifestation of a corrupt logic and point of view that threatens peace and life.
      I am disappointed how so many of us, Iranians, still miss the main point here.
      Retaliation is an act of violence itself, which uses the past to justify its inherent atrocity and viciousness.

  • white elephant

    It is sad that ignorant statements are stated as fact, and repeated over and over until they are accepted to be the truth. As Michael said, quoting Karen Armstrong, any fundamentalist religion (judism, christianity, islam, hinduism,..) has negative customs towards women. These have everything to do with old customs and nothing to do with understanding the message of these scripts. You can point to the three women hostages in Cleveland who were bound with chain and ropes for a decade. Is this christianity? No. Are the Waco Compound women representative of how christianity treats women? How about snake handlers in some christian churches? How about repression of women in orthodox jewish traditions?Clearly, we gloss over odd interpretations of other religions, but are all to eager to make a demon of others. Time to look in the mirror. We are all human and we can collectively do better in peace than in war.

  • Anthony Marzo

    Dear White Elephant, your points are well taken. I am by no means a supporter of our govements policies & meddling in other country’s affairs. This couple, particularly the husband, has earned my opinion with their behavior over many years. As a well traveled person, I have seen too much narrow thinking, particularly from people from the middle east & China, and religious people generally. But the ultra liberals are also frustrating. What we need is a balanced outlook, but the world is not moving that way.

  • Tyranipocrit

    I am not trying to be offensive. Correct me if I’m wrong. Wasn’t the Shah a terrible dictator who oppressed his people? And the Iranians who came to America were the elite that benefited from that oppression? The theocracy that took over maybe worse (or not) but it seems we are protecting, once again, the elite 1% and celebrating them in literature. I realize, all these years later people assimilate, evolve, change, and that the people represent perhaps different classes and distant relationsships–but many of these people must have been directly related to the terrible oppressors of Iranian people. Relatives of the Bush and Cheney family do not deserve commendation–the patriachs of this family should be in Guantanamo (BUSh and Cheny and Blair). The authoritarian thugs of the Chinese regime dont deserve asylum in America either–they should be persecuted (if and when china falls), yet we welcome thier money –why do we always forgive and celebrate dictators (terrorists to some degree) and punish the poor and unconnected without mercy?

    We dont forgive a thief or a drug dealer or starving desperate father who robs a bank but we have no problem forgiving and celebrating powerful people who kill and terrorirze and oppress in the millions.

    Again, I am sure the Iranian backrounds are more complicated, but in the past, surely they were the elite oppressors who came to this country.

    Despite my concerns, I am a fan of Persians and their art. A culture that we need to embrace–politically as well as artistically.

    I am just asking questions…

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