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Tremors

New Fiction by Iranian American Writers

Anita Amirrezvani

Publication Year: 2013

This groundbreaking anthology brings together twenty-seven authors from a wide range of experiences that offer new perspectives on the Iranian American story. The authors in Tremors represent the maturing voice of Iranian American fiction from the vantage point of those who were born and raised in Iran, as well as those writers who reflect a more distant, but still important, connection to their Iranian heritage. Altogether, these narratives capture the diversity of the Iranian diaspora and complicate the often-narrow view of Iranian culture represented in the media. The stories and novel excerpts explore the deeply human experiences of one of the newest immigrant groups to the United States in its attempts to adjust and assimilate in the face of major historical upheavals such as the 1979 Iranian revolution, the hostage crisis, and the attacks of September 11, 2001. The stories set in Iran testify to the resilience, dignity, and humor of a peoplerich in history and culture.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xiv

For the first time, a critical mass of Iranian American writers is carving out new territory in the genre of fiction. Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers is the first collection of this work. This anthology presents a wide range of voices, from seasoned authors to emerging writers, many of whom are grappling with how to understand and represent a country ...

I. American HomeLand

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Other Mothers, Other Sons

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pp. 3-18

My mother feared dying young and orphaning me in a strange country where I had no blood relatives. “What would you do if I died, Omid?” she asked throughout my childhood. I knew to say that I would die, too; like a petal to her stalk, I would wilt and fall away. ..

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Murder in Holmby Hills (excerpted from The Pearl Canon)

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pp. 19-26

The shiva was held at Raphael’s Son’s house—1.6 acres on Mapleton Avenue in Holmby Hills, just across Sunset Boulevard from the Playboy mansion, with its peacocks and swans and naked twins running loose, a stone’s throw from Aaron and Candy Spelling’s 56,000-square-foot, $80 million pad with the leaky roof, ...

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String

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pp. 27-42

Ten days after the old man left his home, Iran, the “Green Revolution” erupted. At first, he had taken offense, as was so often his habit: how dare they wait until he left? Had he not endured long enough, longer than most? After all, he understood these things, these movements, the way that he understood the shifts and the faults of the earth: ...

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Tremors (excerpted from Tremors)

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pp. 43-52

Ten days after the old man left his home, Iran, the “Green Revolution” erupted. At first, he had taken offense, as was so often his habit: how dare they wait until he left? Had he not endured long enough, longer than most? After all, he understood these things, these movements, the way that he understood the shifts and the faults of the earth: ...

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Fixer Karim

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pp. 53-62

I knew the guy they called Heavy K from back in Tehran. He spoke perfect English, but twisted it with an Australian accent, which was strange, endearing, and maybe even a bit sinister when you got to thinking about it. I always imagined that all those language CDs he’d listened to for his pronunciation had been created by some underground guerilla Australian outfit ...

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The Calling

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pp. 63-70

Even after a week Mohtaram could not believe that her sister, Narghes, was really with her in the living room of her house. But there she was, her polkadot chador wrapped around her, sitting in a patch of sunlight on the rug in the living room to warm her ...

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Family Trouble

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pp. 71-76

All the trouble began when my grandfather died and my grandmother—my father’s mother—came to live with us. I had never met her before. She had been dead for at least fifty years or more. Even my father could not remember what she looked like, because he was only three when she got the dysentery. ...

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Sabzeh (excerpted from So Lifts the Eyelid of Life)

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pp. 77-92

That evening at the party, Sohrab’s mood changed hour by hour, and so did Janet’s. At first, each time Janet introduced him to another guest as her boyfriend, Sohrab blushed from shyness. After dinner, she convinced him to dance, and he let himself go. He thought to himself that he hadn’t felt joy like that in years. ...

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Something to Pray For

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pp. 93-102

Mohsen hadn’t remembered to put his cell phone in his pocket that day. His wife usually insisted that he carry it with him at all times, even though he rarely turned the ringer on. He was a product of another time—letters and personal visits over tea were still part of his life, even in his adopted country. ...

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The Sweet Dry Fruit of the Lotus Tree

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pp. 103-112

I pedaled my bicycle faster and faster in small circles as the garbage truck edged toward our driveway. The men yelled over the noise as they jumped off the back, emptying trash cans into the rear loader, and our neighbor’s chaise lounges and wicker chairs snapped and splintered, crushed with pizza boxes, soda cans, and meat wrappers. ...

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In the House of Desire, Honey, Marble, and Dreams

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pp. 113-130

It was an important day, a day of many firsts. They had arrived in Los Angeles only a month before, and in that time period Roya had gotten a job, Omar had gotten a job, and the three children were all enrolled in the local public school—the younger girls in fifth grade, the older daughter in eighth. ...

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The Story of Mehri and the Old Women Who Were Once Young

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pp. 131-144

The summer of the riots I had few responsibilities and fewer plans. I let myself jump into one river of friends and jobs and parties and ideas after the next, sometimes drying off in between, sometimes not. One night I found myself surrounded by teachers, people who had, at some point or another, carved a space in me and filled it ...

II. Iran, Land of Resilience

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The Ascension (Me’raj)

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pp. 147-166

Aunt Tahmineh somehow knew she would remain barren until she had found a name for her future child. So, for the first fifteen years of her marriage, she and her husband fought over what they would call their as-yet-to-be-conceived offspring. She liked authentic Iranian names, like “Koroush,” “Parvaneh,” and “Keyvan,” ...

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Excerpt from Sky of Red Poppies

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pp. 167-182

Mashad, my hometown in northeastern Iran, had awakened to a rainy day in the spring of 1968. Taking hurried steps, my ponytail bouncing, I skipped over the puddles along the sidewalk. There were no students on the street, which could only mean I had already missed the first bell. ...

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White Torture

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pp. 183-196

A terrifying unfolding of a nightmare! She is finally here, a place she has imagined for years, and this is the chair she has been tied to in the darkest bottoms of her nights. The kerchief they have used as a blindfold smells of stale sweat— her face is to a wall, her back to an iron door. ...

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Excerpt from Unveiled

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pp. 197-208

Unveiled, corseted, and lipsticked though my mother was, her life would always be a prayer rug spread at the altar of fear. She performed her namaz only at sunrise and sunset, and often in a hurried and abbreviated form, but inwardly, quietly, she prayed all day. ...

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Excerpt from Balcony of Desire

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pp. 209-216

Mehrva glanced at the sign above the door. Zeinab High School for Girls. Sudeh was already wearing her veil, but Mehrva and Flore had to pull theirs out of their bags and struggle with them. ...

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Axing the Horses

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pp. 217-220

Faith is a fire my parents fuel and fan to keep us warm against the fanaticism that has brought on the winter outside our walls. It is a sharp-dry warmth that chaps our lips, and makes us itch all over. We are told for everything good one must suffer. The sky outside our triple-paned windows is smoky gray. ...

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Tehran Party (excerpted from Together Tea)

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pp. 221-234

Parties did not crumble at Darya’s house in northern Tehran. They did not dare to be less than audacious, even during the Iran-Iraq war. For Mina’s tenth birthday party, Darya measured and rinsed basmati rice all morning. She crushed strands of saffron, then soaked the cooked rice in dissolved saffron powder, delighting in each and every orange-yellow grain. ...

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A New Assignment (excerpted from Equal of the Sun)

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pp. 235-244

On the morning of my first meeting with Pari, I donned my best robe and consumed two glasses of strong black tea with dates to fortify my blood. I needed to charm her and show her my mettle; I must demonstrate why I would be a fitting match for the dynasty’s most exalted woman. ...

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Keeping God (excerpted from an untitled novel)

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pp. 245-260

It was June 12, 1942, when Feyzolah Delshad discovered the inside of Mahvash Tabrizi’s body, the joys of performing cunnilingus, and the thing his penis could do to bring her closer to God. Feyzolah was an athletic man with a thick, black moustache that looked like a brush stroke above his eager eighteen-yearold mouth, ...

Excerpt from Zahra’s Paradise

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pp. 261-276

III. OtherLand

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The Wizard of Khao-I-Dang

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pp. 279-292

Tom treats me like a servant in the day, but he invites me to drink with the Australian Embassy staff in the evening. He’s new on the Thai border and my least favorite of the immigration officers, arrogant and short-tempered. But I accept his offer because I consider this, too, part of my job, not only to work as a Cambodian interpreter ...

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Excerpt from Say I Am You

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pp. 293-304

Behnaz didn’t believe she was in danger when she set off for the Shahr-e-Net Café on Saturday afternoon. She was supposed to be under lockdown at home—possible car bomber targeting foreigners—but after two years of safety in Afghanistan, Behnaz had grown numb to these threats. ...

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The Sleeping

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pp. 305-320

His watch scolds him as the elevator speeds away from the dogs’ basement annex. Even if his bedside check-ins all go with routine smoothness, the earliest he can hope to be home is eight o’clock, which is a good hour later than he promised Anya this morning just before he planted a kiss between her eyebrows and stepped out into the garage. ...

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The Gingko Trees

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pp. 321-326

Since I don’t live in Brooklyn anymore, what I know about it these days is mostly secondhand, hearsay reported to me by the New Yorker, or the Times—publications read most enthusiastically by people who used to live in the city but don’t anymore, or who would like to, but never have. ...

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Everything Gets Mixed Together at the Pueblo

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pp. 327-338

This is everybody, most of them white. There are a lot of them, small and tall, fat and pale, but if you are looking down at them from the pueblo, they just look like golf tees lined up, brittle and wooden. ...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 339-340

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Contributors

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pp. 341-347

Salar Abdoh is the author of the novels The Poet Game and Opium. His essays, short stories, and translations have appeared in various publications, including the New York Times, Bomb, Callaloo, La Règle du Jeu, and the Drawbridge, and on the BBC. He was the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts prize in 2007 and a National Endowment for the Arts prize in 2010. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781610755191
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557289957

Page Count: 467
Publication Year: 2013