More About the Author
BRIEF BIO http://www.nahidrachlin.com
Nahid Rachlin went to Columbia University Writing Program on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship and then went on to Stanford University MFA program on a Stegner Fellowship. Her publications include a memoir, PERSIAN GIRLS (Penguin), four novels, JUMPING OVER FIRE (City Lights), FOREIGNER (W.W. Norton), MARRIED TO A STRANGER (E.P.Dutton-Penguin), THE HEART'S DESIRE (City Lights), and a collection of short stories, VEILS (City Lights). Her individual short stories have appeared in more than fifty magazines, including The Virginia Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Redbook, Shenandoah. One of her stories was adopted by Symphony Space, "Selected Shorts," and was aired on NPR's around the country. Her work has received favorable reviews in major magazines and newspapers and translated into Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, and Persian. She has been interviewed in NPR stations such as All Things Considered (Terry Gross), P&W magazine, Writers Chronicle. She has written reviews and essays for New York Times, Newsday, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Other grants and awards she has received include the Bennet Cerf Award, PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She has taught creative writing at Barnard College, Yale University and at a wide variety of writers conferences, including Paris Writers Conference, Geneva Writers Conference, and Yale Writers Conference. She has been judge for several fiction awards and competitions, among them, Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction (2015) sponsored by AWP, Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award sponsored by Poets & Writers, Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize, University of Maryland, English Dept, Teichmann Fiction Prize, Barnard College, English Dept. For more please click on her website: website: http://www.nahidrachlin.com
Read My Essay: My First Writing Room: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-caw-off-the-shelf10-2009may10-story.html
Excerpts from Reviews of my books:
About CROWD OF SORROWS:
"In Crowd of Sorrows, Nahid Rachlin weaves a story of displacement and loss, centered on the idea that we build our homes around the people we love. Newly separated from her husband, Zora moves to a seemingly idyllic apartment complex to raise her daughter Anar. From the courtyard, they can see through the wide back windows to the building's young families. Zora imagines play dates and companionship, a place for the family of two to find their footing as the divorce is finalized. Instead, she discovers life at the complex is dominated by jealousies and petty scandals. Just when everything begins to settle, disaster strikes: Anar goes missing. In the search and its aftermath, Zora must come to terms with her ideas about security, independence and motherhood. The writing captures the gasping panic of Anar's disappearance beautifully. In a way, it's a story about the flipside of love: the consuming fear of loss."
About PERSIAN GIRLS:
National Public Radio: The World
Christopher Merrill, the Director of Iowa International Writing Program: "If you want to know what it was like to grow up in Iran this is the book to read. The prospects of her becoming a writer were, at best, dim. But her portrait of the artist in an Islamic country on the verge of dramatic change is filled with light."
"Persian Girls, reads like a novel -- suspenseful, vivid, heartbreaking. In "Persian Girls, Rachlin chronicles her choices and those made by her sisters, her mother and her aunts, throwing the door to her family's home wide open. Readers who follow her through will be wiser, and moved."
The Charlotte Observer:
"Iran again looms large on the world stage. Rhetoric conjures fear of radical Islam and flashbacks to the Ayatollah Khomeini-- images that obscure Iran's rich cultural history as Persia and ignore ordinary people torn between old and new, secular and sacred. In her bittersweet memoir, Persian Girls, Iranian American novelist Nahid Rachlin fills in the blanks."
The Plain Dealer:
In her frank, vivid memoir, PERSIAN GIRLS, Nahid Rachlin recounts her life in Iran and her close relationship with her sister, Pari... The stark differences between their lives, as well as Rachlin's conflicting feelings about the United States, land of freedom but also of parochialism, make this account both riveting and heartbreaking.
Times Union, Albany, New York: A poignant, beautifully written memoir... a fine, profound book. Each scene has the shapely aura of memory, hauled back from the deep by one telling detail. A haunting and moving story."
Rachlin's sister who never knew life without a domineering father and strict Muslim cultural rules, ends up in a heartbreaking, arranged marriage, while Rachlin escapes to college in the US, becomes an admired novelist and writers this wrenching, beautiful story.
"This lyrical and disturbing memoir by the author of four novels (Foreigner , etc.) tells the story of an Iranian girl growing up in a culture where, despite the Westernizing reforms of the Shah, women had little power or autonomy... Exuding the melancholy of an outsider, this memoir gives American readers rare insight into Iranians' ambivalence toward the United States, the desire for American freedom clashing with resentment of American hegemony."
About JUMPING OVER FIRE:
"If, as Aristotle reminds us, we are our desire, then who are we if the object of our desire is forbidden? What becomes of us if we are born in one world yet long for another? These are just two of the complex and difficult questions Nahid Rachlin explores and ultimately illuminates in this brave, engrossing, and timely novel. I recommend it highly!"
--Andre (Dubus III),author of House of Sand and Fog, and In the Bedroom
"This poignant, beautifully told story of an Iranian-American family is both a great read and a fine introduction to a land and a culture about which it is imperative we Americans inform ourselves as much and as quickly as possible."
-- Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind and For Rouenna.
New York Times Book Review:
"... a rare intimate look at Iranians who are poorer and less educated... I have read (this book) four times by now, and each time I have discovered new layers in it. The voice is cool and pure. Bleak is the right word, if you will understand that bleakness can have a startling beauty."
-- Anne Tyler, NY Times Book Review
"... an accomplished Iranian novel... FOREIGNER avoids political comment. Its protest is more oblique, the political constriction drives the passion deeper, and the novel with all its air of innocence, is a novel of violation, helplessness and defeat."
-- V.S. Naipaul, from Among the Believers
About MARRIED TO A STRANGER:
New York Times Book Review:
"The ecstasies and disillusionments of first love are the stuff of great tragedies and cheap romances but Nahid Rachlin has done something else with this familiar theme, and something more, though her style is elegantly simple... Miss Rachlin shows us not only the tranquil inner courtyards with sweets and gossip exchanged by the fishpond, the flower bedecked bridal chamber, but also the political, social and religious factions contending for primacy in the streets outside... Minou is a dreamy literary girl... like other yearning heroines from Dorothea Brooke to Emma Bovary, she wants more than conventional marriage..."-- New York Times book Review
"MARRIED TO A STRANGER seems to me such a clear statement and all of one pieces-- a direct cry, as it were, from out of a particular feminine sensibility. Reading the book, one feels one knows what it is like to be a girl growing up to be a woman in urban, 'modern' Iran; and knows it not from the outside, as from a sociological survey, but from within a living experience... Nahid Rachlin has refined her prose... by giving it the clarity and spare sensuousness of Persian poetry or miniature painting."
-- Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
"... The commonalities of life, wherever it's lived, shine through in these tales of family friendship, love, and war... They are stories of strength and endurance that continually remind us how fragile our outer shells can be, how deeply love can be felt, and how strong the influence of home is, wherever home may be."
-- 500 Great Books by Women, A Reader's Guide, Penguin Books
About THE HEART'S DESIRE:
"What is remarkable about THE HEART'S DESIRE is its even-handedness and painful honesty. Rachlin's characters face each other across a gulf of irreconcilable differences, but she shows them to us with their complexity and dignity intact, their deepest needs as recognizable to our own. In the end, though, Iran is the major character in this novel. By the time we've finished confronting it from very diverse perspectives, each beautifully evoked, we have experienced the potent spell it casts over its people, and the weight of that spell fora Western woman." -- Rosellen Brown
"Nahid Rachlin has written an intimate family study that is, simultaneously, an exploration of cultures, nations, worlds. Her willingness to be vulnerable to such powerful feeling, and her ability to pass it along to us, make THE HEART'S DESIRE a profoundly moving experience."
-- Frederick Busch
-- Kirkus Reviews:
"... offers an affecting portrait of the irreconcilable conflict between the familiar and the foreign... A perceptive account, in polished prose..."
-- Kirkus Review