New Fiction by Iranian American Writers
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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For the first time, a critical mass of Iranian American writers is carving out newterritory in the genre of fiction. Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian AmericanWritersis the first collection of this work. This anthology presents a wide rangeof voices, from seasoned authors to emerging writers, many of whom are grap-pling with how to understand and represent a country and culture to which...
Other Mothers, Other Sons
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My mother feared dying young and orphaning me in a strange country whereI had no blood relatives. “What would you do if I died, Omid?” she askedthroughout my childhood. I knew to say that I would die, too; like a petal toher stalk, I would wilt and fall away. Hearing my answer gave her strength toendure the many humiliations, the endless sacrifices. She asked me to beseech...
Murder in Holmby Hills(from The Pearl Canon)
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The shivawas held at Raphael’s Son’s house—1.6 acres on Mapleton Avenuein Holmby Hills, just across Sunset Boulevard from the Playboy mansion, withits peacocks and swans and naked twins running loose, a stone’s throw fromAaron and Candy Spelling’s 56,000-square-foot, $80 million pad with theleaky roof, down the street from the 45,000-square-foot, $125 million “Little...
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Dad and I move for the third time in five years. Our new town in the Sierrashas a population of eight thousand. They hanged criminals here during theGold Rush, the town’s claim to fame. We arrive a week after I turn fifteen. Dadsays we’ll have a new adventure in Gold Country. No more Los Angeles smog.No red-faced drivers yelling through rolled-up windows. No emaciated drug...
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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 untilhe left? Had he not endured long enough, longer than most? After all, he under-stood these things, these movements, the way that he understood the shifts andthe faults of the earth: for fifty-seven years he had carved his mark against the...
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I knew the guy they called Heavy K from back in Tehran. He spoke perfectEnglish, 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 imag-ined that all those language CDs he’d listened to for his pronunciation hadbeen created by some underground guerilla Australian outfit whose goal it was...
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Even after a week Mohtaram could not believe that her sister, Narghes, wasreally with her in the living room of her house. But there she was, her polka-dot chador wrapped around her, sitting in a patch of sunlight on the rug in theliving room to warm her legs, although it was late May and the temperaturehovered around seventy-five. The house too had marks of Narghes’s presence....
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All the trouble began when my grandfather died and my grandmother—myfather’s mother—came to live with us. I had never met her before. She hadbeen dead for at least fifty years or more. Even my father could not rememberwhat she looked like, because he was only three when she got the dysentery. We only had one photograph of her. I had stolen it out of a family album...
Sabzeh(from So Lifts the Eyelid of Life)
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That evening at the party, Sohrab’s mood changed hour by hour, and so didJanet’s. At first, each time Janet introduced him to another guest as herboyfriend, Sohrab blushed from shyness. After dinner, she convinced him todance, and he let himself go. He thought to himself that he hadn’t felt joy likethat in years. Then during a break between two songs, he suddenly realized that...
Something to Pray For
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Mohsen hadn’t remembered to put his cell phone in his pocket that day. Hiswife usually insisted that he carry it with him at all times, even though he rarelyturned the ringer on. He was a product of another time—letters and personalvisits over tea were still part of his life, even in his adopted country. But now,sitting on the cold concrete floor in a jail cell crowded with what seemed like...
The Sweet Dry Fruit of the Lotus Tree
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I pedaled my bicycle faster and faster in small circles as the garbage truck edgedtoward our driveway. The men yelled over the noise as they jumped off theback, emptying trash cans into the rear loader, and our neighbor’s chaiselounges and wicker chairs snapped and splintered, crushed with pizza boxes,soda cans, and meat wrappers. Flies swarmed, and stinking liquid dripped from...
In the House of Desire, Honey,Marble, and Dreams
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... Roya Sanjabi had gotten as far as the doorknob when her husband Omar’s It was an important day, a day of many firsts. They had arrived in LosAngeles 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 localpublic school—the younger girls in fifth grade, the older daughter in eighth....
The Story of Mehri and the OldWomen Who Were Once Young
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The summer of the riots I had few responsibilities and fewer plans. I let myselfjump 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 myselfsurrounded by teachers, people who had, at some point or another, carved aspace in me and filled it with a gaseous knowledge that spread through me a...
II.Iran, Land of Resilience
The Ascension (Me’raj)
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Aunt Tahmineh somehow knew she would remain barren until she had founda name for her future child. So, for the first fifteen years of her marriage, sheand her husband fought over what they would call their as-yet-to-be-conceivedoffspring. She liked authentic Iranian names, like “Koroush,” “Parvaneh,” and“Keyvan,” while her husband, a religious man, insisted on a Koranic names like...
from Sky of Red Poppies
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No one ever told me I would remember the hands that sculpted me or thatwords could be carved into my soul. Now, decades later, I reminisce,sometimes with affection but often not. It is the ﬂexibility that I miss themost about my childhood. It is the remembrance of that innocence whichAt sixteen, I was curious about many things, but the activities of the shah’s...
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A terrifying unfolding of a nightmare! She is finally here, a place she has imag-ined for years, and this is the chair she has been tied to in the darkest bottomsof her nights. The kerchief they have used as a blindfold smells of stale sweat— With each breath she takes in the pungent odor of someone’s greasy sweat.She would tear off the filthy cloth if she could—no matter the consequences—...
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Unveiled, corseted, and lipsticked though my mother was, her life would alwaysbe a prayer rug spread at the altar of fear. She performed her namaz only at sun-rise and sunset, and often in a hurried and abbreviated form, but inwardly, qui-etly, she prayed all day. She believed that everything, but everything, was inGod’s hands. If a piece of fruit fell from a tree, it was God’s will; if it rotted...
from Balcony of Desire
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Mehrva glanced at the sign above the door. Zeinab High School for Girls. Sudehwas already wearing her veil, but Mehrva and Flore had to pull theirs out of Mehrva felt a dreariness come over her. “Everywhere we go there’s a linethese days. I wonder if there’s a line for killing ourselves.” A girl with silver braces told them they were searching everyone’s bags for...
Axing the Horses
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Faith is a fire my parents fuel and fan to keep us warm against the fanaticismthat has brought on the winter outside our walls. It is a sharp-dry warmth thatchaps our lips, and makes us itch all over. We are told for everything good onemust suffer. The sky outside our triple-paned windows is smoky gray. I don’tknow if the glass is tinted, and I know no other windows to compare them to....
Tehran Party(from Together Tea)
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Parties did not crumble at Darya’s house in northern Tehran. They did not dareto be less than audacious, even during the Iran-Iraq war. For Mina’s tenthbirthday party, Darya measured and rinsed basmati rice all morning. Shecrushed strands of saffron, then soaked the cooked rice in dissolved saffronpowder, delighting in each and every orange-yellow grain. Baba climbed out...
A New Assignment(from Equal of the Sun)
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On the morning of my first meeting with Pari, I donned my best robe and con-sumed two glasses of strong black tea with dates to fortify my blood. I neededto charm her and show her my mettle; I must demonstrate why I would be afitting match for the dynasty’s most exalted woman. A thin sheen of sweat, nodoubt from the hot tea, appeared on my chest as I entered her waiting area and...
Keeping God(from an untitled novel)
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It was June 12, 1942, when Feyzolah Delshad discovered the inside of MahvashTabrizi’s body, the joys of performing cunnilingus, and the thing his peniscould 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-year-old mouth, and as his last name suggested he had a happy heart, or a happy...
The Wizard of Khao-I-Dang
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Tom treats me like a servant in the day, but he invites me to drink with theAustralian Embassy staff in the evening. He’s new on the Thai border and myleast favorite of the immigration officers, arrogant and short-tempered. But Iaccept his offer because I consider this, too, part of my job, not only to workas a Cambodian interpreter but also to try to educate the staff, as I’ve been here...
from Say I Am You
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Behnaz didn’t believe she was in danger when she set off for the Shahr-e-NetCafé on Saturday afternoon. She was supposed to be under lockdown athome—possible car bomber targeting foreigners—but after two years of safetyin Afghanistan, Behnaz had grown numb to these threats. Although there hadbeen a dramatic increase in the number of aid worker kidnappings, shootings,...
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Dr. Stephen Milner has again spent too long with the narcoleptic dogs. His watch scolds him as the elevator speeds away from the dogs’ basementannex. Even if his bedside check-ins all go with routine smoothness, the earliesthe can hope to be home is eight o’clock, which is a good hour later than hepromised Anya this morning just before he planted a kiss between her eyebrows...
The Gingko Trees
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Since I don’t live in Brooklyn anymore, what I know about it these days ismostly secondhand, hearsay reported to me by the New Yorker, or the Times—publications read most enthusiastically by people who used to live in the citybut don’t anymore, or who would like to, but never have. The more years passbetween me and the last drive I took over the Verrazano Bridge, the more I feel...
Everything Gets Mixed Togetherat the Pueblo
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... This is everybody, most of them white. There are a lot of them, small andtall, fat and pale, but if you are looking down at them from the pueblo, they The bus will take everybody up to the pueblo to see the Indians, who arealready there now, holding sweaty McDonald’s drinks in their hands, staring Everybody meets outside the Visitor Center, by the stone wall, with access...
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Grateful acknowledgment is given for permission to use previously publishedZahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Khalil, was originally published by FirstSecondBooks in 2011. Equal of the Sun,by Anita Amirrezvani, is reprinted with the permission of Scribner, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2012 by Anita Amirrezvani. All rights reserved. “Family Trouble,” by Taha...
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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. ...
Page Count: 467
Publication Year: 2013