Saffron Sky: A Life Between Iran and America / Edition 1

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This lyrical memoir evinces the author's passion for constructing an American life with the spiritual fervor and deeply aesthetic rituals that were part of her childhood in Iran. Asayesh, who immigrated to North Carolina as a girl, writes too of her struggle to arrive at an acceptable sexuality in the face of parental panic, and tells of her frustration, during later trips to post-Shah Iran, with "the sisters," the Ayatollah's ubiquitous enforcers of female modesty.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Beguiling. . . . An American manifesto, if ever there was one.--Wendy Law-Yone, The Washington Post Book World

"Asayesh's superb memoir . . . is funny, human, real, and illuminates a dignified, honest, and endearing family."--James McBride, author of The Color of Water

"Asayesh reminds us of every adopted person's dream: to reclaim the past and take it into the future. . . . A graceful and moving account of how a temporary visa can become a permanent life."--Richard Wallace, San Francisco Chronicle

"This beautifully written narrative provides a rare, humanizing glimpse into the politics, culture, and geography of a place about which most Americans know shamefully little. . . . A wonderful and timely tale."--Rachel Mattson, Library Journal

"What makes this work particularly effective is the manner in which Asayesh weaves her keen reporter's eye for objective detail with her almost poetic ability to describe and analyze her own emotional connection to the story."
-Kirkus Reviews

Richard Wallace
Saffron Sky, her memoir of her life in both countries, is a graceful and moving account of how a temporary visa can become a permanent life.
San Francisco Chronicle
Those of us born in the U.S. take much for granted. Our culture and our life experiences are all of one world. For those born elsewhere and living in America, life is frequently a constant tug of war. The latter describes the author's situation. She was born and spent her early years in Iran. Then her family spent several years in North Carolina and returned to Iran. They left Iran permanently a few years later. Now, as an adult with her own children, Asayesh is able to return to Iran regularly. When she is "home" in Florida, she longs for Iran, her family, old traditions and even some of the prohibitive, restrictive rules. When she is "home" in Tehran and Mashad, she wants her other existence. Here is a fascinating look at how acculturalization works. Clearly the author is extremely ambivalent but also has strong feelings for both of her cultures. She recognizes these feelings. This is readable and quite worthwhile. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Beacon Press, 222p, 22cm, 99-27889, $15.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Robin S. Holab-Abelman; White Plains, NY, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Library Journal
This lyrical memoir revisits still-important questions about immigration, race, and cultural assimilation. Aseyesh, a journalist at the Miami Herald, emigrated from Iran to the United States as a young girl; now married and a parent, she finds herself mourning the loss of her old self and angry at Americans' anti-Iranian racism. Moving back and forth between past and present, she chronicles her life as a series of trips to and from Iran--as a child who spoke no English, on the eve of the 1992 Gulf War as a green card-holding adult, and as the parent of a young biracial American citizen--and in doing so, tells the story of both her family's and Iran's tumultuous recent history. This beautifully written narrative provides a rare, humanizing glimpse into the politics, culture, and geography of a place about which most Americans know shamefully little. Although slow-moving and seemingly plotless at times, this is for the most part a wonderful and timely tale. Recommended strongly for all libraries.--Rachel Mattson, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The vibrant, discerning memoir of a young newspaper journalist which depicts her immigration from Iran in 1977, her assimilation into American culture as a teenager, and her return to her native country in October 1990 as war loomed over the Persian Gulf. What makes this work particularly effective is the manner in which Asayesh weaves her keen reporter's eye for objective detail with her almost poetic ability to describe and analyze her own emotional connection to the story. Her first-hand accounts of post-revolution Iran are as meticulous and perceptive as they are rare. With equal fascination, she describes revolutionary graffiti demanding the destruction of Israel and the end of women dressing in violation of religious law, military recruiting propaganda clips shown before movies, and her young relatives' fascination with American superstars like Madonna and Kim Wild. She resolves the tension dividing the Iranian population between the religious government and modern cosmopolitan ways into women's daily, sometimes hourly choice of headgear (should they wear the more fashionable, modern-looking scarf, or the more traditional chador which will keep them from drawing attention from the religious police?). The heart of this memoir, however, is set in America, not Iran. Asayesh's depiction of growing up in Chapel Hill and her attempt to negotiate her sexuality while caught between two worlds evokes a familiar theme of many immigrants arriving here from "traditional" cultures. Co-workers' reactions to her ethnicity will not surprise the millions of Arabic-Americans who have fallen under a cloud of suspicion since the fall of the Shah in the 1970s. Her ongoing attempt to forge a livingconnection between her home country and her new identity as an American is a well-crafted rearticulation of the central theme of immigrant literature the world over. An especially topical read considering the ongoing tension between the United States and much of the Arab world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807072110
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Edition description: None
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gelareh Asayesh has worked at The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, and The Baltimore Sun, and she has also written for The Washington Post and other national publications. She lives with her family in St. Petersburg, Florida.
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2000

    Thank You Saffron Sky

    What I enjoyed most about Saffron Sky was how much I learned from it. Being born an American, and having never traveled off the East Coast, I consider myself somewhat sheltered to the world. This book was very educational. Yet, it wasn't boring, fact after fact reading like a textbook. It was up close and personal. Asayesh allows the reader to travel with here between Iran and America, to experience some of the issues, to feel some of her same emotions - which made it all the more interesting and enjoyable. The book was easy to read, funny at times, a sort of comic relief from some of the more upsetting parts. I feel so very fortunate to have read this book and highly recommend it. I feel a bit more exposed to the world now - thanks to Saffron Sky!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2000

    Brave and beautiful book

    A wonderfully written memoir that beautifully captures the essential dilemma for all immigrants or for those who live apart from people or places they love. The dilemma: How to hold on to what you love when it is so, so far away.

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    Posted November 8, 2009

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