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Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora

Overview


Until recently, Iranian literature has overwhelmingly been the domain of men. But the new hybrid culture of diaspora Iranians has produced a prolific literature by women that reflects a unique perspective and voice. Let Me Tell You Where I've Been is an extensive collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by women whose lives have been shaped and influenced by Iran's recent history, exile, immigration and the formation of new cultural identities in the United States and Europe. These writings represent an ...
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Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora

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Overview


Until recently, Iranian literature has overwhelmingly been the domain of men. But the new hybrid culture of diaspora Iranians has produced a prolific literature by women that reflects a unique perspective and voice. Let Me Tell You Where I've Been is an extensive collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by women whose lives have been shaped and influenced by Iran's recent history, exile, immigration and the formation of new cultural identities in the United States and Europe. These writings represent an emerging and multi-cultural female sensibility. Unlike many flat media portrayals of Iranian women—as veiled, silenced—these writers offer a complex literary view of Iranian culture and its influences. These writers interrogate, challenge, and re-define notions of home and language and their work offers readers an experience of Iranian diaspora culture. Featuring over one hundred selections (two-thirds of which have never been published before) by more than fifty contributors--including such well-known writers as Gelareh Asayesh, Tara Bahrampour, Firoozeh Dumas, Roya Hakakian and Mimi Khalvati--the collection represents a substantial diversity of voices in this multicultural community. Divided into six sections, the book's themes of exile, family, culture resistance, and love, create a rich and textured view of the Iranian diaspora. The poems, short stories, and essays are suggestive of an important conversation about Iran, Iranian culture, the Persian and English languages, and the dual identities of many of its authors. This powerful collection is a tribute to the wisdom, insight, and sensitivity of women attempting to invent and articulate a literature of in-betweenness.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“I’d never heard of Sholeh Wolpe or the late Susan Atefat-Peckham before this book; now I want to read everything they’ve ever written. Their poems are daring and wise, full of love, breathtakingly tender and hones. Do they write with a woman’s sensitivity? Absolutely. Do I feel as though I’m reading ‘woman’s literature’? Absoutely not. It’s deeper than that – both arresting and sublime in a way that transcends gender.” — Brad Buckholz, Austin American-Statesman “This is a surprising collection. . . . Persis Karim has located a community of sensitive and articulate cultural observers and mapped that explosion of creativity for us.” — Michael Beard, coeditor of Middle Eastern Literatures and author of Naguib Mahfouz: From Regional Fame to Global Recognition “[These writings] command our attention, not only for the range of their subject matter and literary artistry, but for representing a multiplicity of voices, the newest patch in this quilt of American culture. They are allegories of our enriched nation . . . the real thing.” — Zohreh T. Sullivan, author of Exiled Memories: Stories of Iranian Diaspora “In these tender and no-so-tender pages you’ll find the barely tellable story of what really happened to dreams deferred. Through vivid, sometimes spellbinding accounts they provide, these gifted writers speak powerfully to the subject of displacement.” — Al Young, from the Foreword “We have to thank Persis Karim for this wonderful book and for these powerful selections; they offer an alternative to the currently politicized and one-sided view of Iran and Iranian culture.” – Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books "Might we present this stunning collection of voices to the U.S. government? Might this be the perfect moment for bridges of language and sensibility—delicious humanity—to define and connect us? Cast aside the grim proclamations of power and threat! Gratitude to Persis Karim for this healing tonic of pomegranate wisdom and pleasure." —Naomi Shihab Nye, poet and author of You & Yours, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East "Iran is a land of paradoxes. It is also undergoing a momentous and profound transformation. The delightfully diverse group of women assembled in this important and timely anthology offers a panoramic view of this complexity and dynamism. Persis Karim ought to be congratulated." —Farzaneh Milani, director of Studies in Women and Gender at the University of Virginia, is the author of Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers
Michael Beard
"This is a surprising collection. . . . Persis Karim has located a community of sensitive and articulate cultural observers and mapped that explosion of creativity for us."
coeditor of Middle Eastern Literatures and author of Naguib Mahfouz: From Regional Fame to Global Recognition
Zohreh T. Sullivan
"[These writings] command our attention, not only for the range of their subject matter and literary artistry, but for representing a multiplicity of voices, the newest patch in this quilt of American culture. They are allegories of our enriched nation . . . the real thing."
author of Exiled Memories: Stories of Iranian Diaspora
Publishers Weekly
The diversity of voices represented in this stunning collection of poetry, fiction and nonfiction by women of Iranian descent shatters their narrow image in the U.S. Though none are well known, most of the 53 authors live in the U.S. and 15 have been published in journals if not books. One writes about a woman's relationship with her chador. Another remembers her desire, as a young girl, to distance herself from the "old-world values" espoused by her parents. A woman who sought refuge in Germany conveys the longing she felt to return to her birthplace by detailing a market scene and how the taste of raw walnuts made her feel at home again. Like other emigres, the women who fled Iran after the 1979 revolution have continued to feel strong ties with their homeland. Many of those now living in the U.S., Canada or the U.K. have grappled with such feelings in an era when cars in the U.S. were emblazoned with bumper stickers reading "Iranians Go Home" and "We Play Cowboys and Iranians." Though many contributions avoid politics, several writers illustrate heartbreaking incidents of stereotyping that reveal the struggle of facing pervasive social suspicion. Touching on universal themes of love and loss, exile and longing, politics and war, this collection derives its cumulative power from its authors' subtle, uniquely female perceptions. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This deep, emotional anthology of poetry, essays, and memoirs edited by Karim (English & comparative literature, San Jose State Univ., CA; coeditor, A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans) represents the growth of women's writing that occurred after the Iranian revolution. The more than 100 selections most never before published are organized around six general themes: home and away, family and tradition, gender, politics, love, and silence. They describe the insights of exile, the immigrant experience, and the gripping emotions of the powerful events that sent Iranians to the United States in the 1980s. The rich poetry covers such topics as family traditions, the war in Iraq, and the anxiety and lure of returning to their homeland as well as the difficulty of living there. This vast and compelling collection includes contributions from some 50 accomplished writers, among them Susan Atefat-Peckham and Nika Khanjani. It will offer readers a moving portrait of the Iranian American experience and the hope of possibilities that can lie within a new culture. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries. Susan McClellan, Avalon P.L., Pittsburgh Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557288202
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 428
  • Sales rank: 1,449,248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Persis M. Karim was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by her Iranian father and French mother. She is an associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University. She has written numerous articles about Iranian-American literature and is coeditor and contributing author to A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans.
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Table of Contents

Autumn letter 3
Home stories 5
Dokhtar-e Amrika-i 7
Dokhtar-e Irani 9
Separation 11
The sun is a dying star 13
En route to Persepolis 23
Timing 25
Against the kitchen white wall 27
Road trip 29
The break 31
Home 38
Persian Princess Insania 40
Naderi 42
Where does my language lie? 43
Inheritance 44
Revolution 1979 52
Portland, Oregon 1979 53
With a little help from my friends 56
Another quiet new year 61
My brother at the Canadian border 64
1979 65
Captions 71
Arrivals and departures 77
Excerpt from to see and see again 86
For tradition 95
Sister 96
Twin 98
The Persian bath 100
A love song 101
Pomegranates 102
Passover 105
Ajun 106
Next year in Cyprus 112
Recovery 117
Baba's passing - February 2005 129
Joys of a simple meal 131
Raw walnuts 132
The camel and the cantaloupe 135
Ode to the eggplant 137
Torches 139
Avenue Vali Asr 143
Woman's duty 145
The next day is always so still 146
Waiting for Ulysses 148
The woman has veto power 149
On the rooftop 151
If you change your nose 161
Iranian women 163
Love in a time of struggle 166
Becoming a woman 180
The world was a couple 182
The gift 183
The execution of Atefeh 194
Bad 196
Summoning 197
Masouleh 198
Words to die for 199
Fariba's daughters 201
Lower Manhattan 205
Another day and counting 207
Axis of evil 209
How lucky persimmons are 211
Mamaan-Bozorg 213
In the gutter 214
The witness 216
American again 220
Butcher shop 221
Iranians v. Persians 222
Invitation to the hungry ghosts 224
When toys are us 225
As good as any other day 229
Dawn on the fall equinox 230
Instilling shock and awe 232
Summer day 233
Sestinelle for travelers 237
The best reason to write a poem is still for love 239
Perfectly parallel mirrors 241
Money buys 243
Once 244
Excerpt from stones in the garden 246
Stripes 253
Magical chair of nails : becoming a writer in a second language 256
Us four 259
The eglantine deal 260
The sandcastle 263
Ghazal 267
Mandala at Manzanar 268
Beyond 269
Only the blue remains unchanged 270
Night conversations (deep are these distances) 273
Do you miss me? 275
Lost Karbala 277
Sing 278
Earth and water 279
Tales left untold 281
Because of hands and bread 295
Soleiman's silence 296
Standing in a mosque contemplating faith 301
Sabze 303
Years later 304
Native 306
Unpacking 308
Blessing 309
Green world through broken glass 311
A return 312
Blood 313
13 days 332
Ari 333
Let me tell you where I've been 335
Cardamom and hell 337
Nazr 338
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Foreword

"In these tender and no-so-tender pages you'll find the barely tellable story of what really happened to dreams deferred. Through vivid, sometimes spellbinding accounts they provide, these gifted writers speak powerfully to the subject of displacement."
from the Foreword by Al Young
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    Revealing unique outlooks

    'Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing By Women of the Iranian Diaspora' is a totally new first anthology of writing by women of the Iranian diaspora. Revealing unique outlooks in a formerly male dominated, patriarchal literary tradition, these vivid works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction give authentic artistic voice to the silence of the veil stereotype frequently perceived by the West. Over one hundred selections are presented by more than fifty authors, some famous and some unknown. Two thirds of the works are previously unpublished. The authors selected are a diverse group who represent a cross section, or a complex community of intelligent, sensitive, articulate women in a rapidly changing world. The voices of these writers have been named 'Allegories of our enriched nation... the real thing,' by Zohreh T. Sullivan, author of 'Exiled Memories: Stories of the Iranian Diaspora.' A list of the contributors include Tara Bahrampour, Susan Atefat-Peckham, Firoozeh Dumas, Farnoosh Moshiri, Azadeh Moaveni, and other less familiar writers such as Leyla Momeny, Gelareh Asayesh, Niloofar Kalaam, and Farnaz Fatemi. Certainly many kudos are owed to Professor Persis Karim, teacher of English and comparative literature at San Jose State University, for amassing this wondrous, stunning collection. The selections are organized by theme into six different main areas: Home Stories, For Tradition, Woman's Duty, Axis of Evil, Beyond, and Tales Left Untold Subjects include differentiating dual and multi-cultural identities, sexuality, love, traditional expectation and its failure, politics, gender, blood and suffering, and the desperate poignancy of silence. There is so much to absorb in this collection, it is so very rich. It is certainly a fragrant beginning to enable Western to grasp the barest outlines of the complexity and courage of these women and their worlds and cultures. It is impossible to read any part of this book and come away unchanged. 'But she wants to step into/the whiteness of this inferno/and search Madison/for someone in his life/with the power to change him:/daughter, father, wife./She would become that person/undress him in the daytime/stand naked in front of him./say, look at what we've wrapped in./See this soft scraped creamy dark thing? It/s life.' Farnaz Fatemi (p. 240)

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