Cover image for A world between : poems, short stories, and essays by Iranian-Americans
A world between : poems, short stories, and essays by Iranian-Americans
Karim, Persis M.
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : George Braziller, 1999.
Physical Description:
286 pages ; 23 cm
Foreword / Introduction / Namaz / Nowruz / Dastet dard nakoneh / Yeki bud, yeki nabud / Ta'rof / Shab bekher / Donya Hamineh / Cheshmetun rowshan / Takhteh-nard / Piri bad ast / My turn / I ain't no American beauty rose / Five p.m. express / My fifties-theme birthday party

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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS508.I69 W67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This collection is the first published anthology of writings by Iranian immigrants and first generation Iranian Americans. Wide ranging and deeply personal, these pieces explore the Iranian community's continuing struggle to understand what it means to be Iranian in America. The selections come together to present a rich, humanizing portrait of a growing community Americans tend to view negatively. Many are intimate reflections on the pain of being alienated from the language, history, and geography of one's childhood. Others grapple with the complexities of cultural and personal identity. Iranian Americans, like any other immigrant community, must face the ongoing negotiation between past and present, their native home and their adopted home. A World Between gives voice to their unique and moving stories.

Author Notes

Persis M. Karim was born in the United States to an Iranian father and a French mother. She received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Texas at Austin.

Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami has lived in the United States since 1984. He is an assistant professor of Persian and Persian literature at New York University.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 1979 Iranian revolution catalyzed the migration of more than one million Iranians to the U.S. The writings of the first generation of immigrants reveal their common "sense of alienation and `in-betweenness,' " according to editor Khorrami. The result is that an impression of bleaknessÄeven bitternessÄand mourning pervades this collection of original poems, short stories and transcripts of videotaped interviews with Iranian-American students conducted at UC-Berkeley. Zara Houshmand's poem "I Pass" exposes the universal dilemma of the outsider: "I hold the cards close to my chest;/ I bluff./ You call./ I pass." Likewise, Laleh Khalili's poem "Defeated" recounts how many immigrants "slowly unlearned [their] ancestry" and "lost" themselves. Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet's story "Martyrdom Street" describes a woman coming back to consciousness after an Iraqi bombing of an Iranian post office, next to "a man's dismembered hand, beautiful with long artistic fingers, capable of painting masterpieces or composing epics." This woman "survives," but loses the use of her own left hand and watches helplessly as her marriage becomes a casualty of war. Though too bleak to be read in one sitting, these stories and poems are eloquent testimony to the eminent desirability of peace. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

While many themes in this collection echo typical immigrant experiences, most of the contributions offer unusual glimpses into a lesser-known and often stereotyped ethnic group. The majority of the more than one million Iranian Americans left their homeland after the 1979 events that brought down the Shah and ushered in a new fundamentalist order. This anthology includes stories, essays, and poems by more than 30 first- and second-generation Iranian Americans, set against the backdrop of the Islamic revolution in Iran and refugee life in America. Charming and deeply personal, the writings often reflect on the pain of alienation and cultural struggle. The diversity of the contributors is noteworthy, ranging from 14-year-old Sharif, whose poem "My Father's Shoes" describes the pain of exile, to Persian poet and New York University professor Mohammad Khorrami. This first-ever collection of writings in English by Iranian American literary talents is highly recommended for most libraries.ÄAli Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One namaz(*) empty pickle jars line the bottom of the pantry gossiping in vinegar. they await the alchemist's blessing eager to join the consecrated vessels amassed above flush with tarragon and mint saffron and thyme. the cupboard is a shrine each tea tin a reliquary every burlap rice sack a benediction. "try this," you murmured and laughed as I puzzled over the red leather bulb a fat sunburned king with a tiny stem crown. it was my first pomegranate. at ten I made chai you let me praised me for it though I was always the guest always will be. twenty thousand casserole afternoons a lifetime of prayer forever on your knees crushing lentils into paste drying herbs on bronze platters pressing forehead to floor have turned your spine into limestone and you still start from scratch one eye on the sun the other on me addasi, ash reshteh, ghormeh sabzi I have tasted your love songs. (*) The prayer Muslims perform five times a day. nowruz(*) "goldfish are cheap, dollar a dozen. wait'll you see the rest." I pointed to sea horses, angel fish, porcupine puffers, "goldfish," grandma whispered, "two of them." the shopkeeper fetched her a pair of aces, they danced in the bowl like ochre bullion, flashed like canary ducats. Carassius auratus . the kind you'd expect in a picture by the dictionary definition. two weeks into the new year, her nightstand bare. " naneh ... the goldfish?" "they had nothing to eat," she mumbled, frowning to keep from crying. "no one to feed them." (*) Nowruz , literally "new day," refers to the Iranian New Year and marks the arrival of spring. Goldfish, among other things, serve as symbols of good fortune and are traditionally found in Iranian households during New Year celebrations.     dastet dard nakoneh(*) grandma can't thread a needle anymore, says, "it's better I die" as though it will happen soon. until then, I'll thread her needles. (*) A Persian expression of thanks whose rough translation is "May your hand be free of pain." yeki bud, yeki nabud(*) what goes without saying? ours is a history of silence, an assemblage of garments strung on a clothesline of glyph glances and idle chatter. my tongue, built of porcelain, dams a decade of questions, moots that have faded like the cerulean marks on your fingers and forehead. I carry your image in the book that you gave me, sewn from your lips. the story begins: one was, one wasn't. (*) Literally, "one was, one wasn't." It is the Persian equivalent of "once upon a time." ta'rof(*)             I. she's there again, pouring tea leaves onto the dew-soaked lawn, scattering rice scraps beneath the weeping willow. sparrows converge, as always.             II. "during shortfalls, your grandmother would fast for days, place her portion on our plates. each time she'd insist, `I have eaten.'"             III. sure as the dawn, her first words are, " ghaza khordi? " "have you eaten?" as I mumble, "I have," naneh turns toward the kitchen and replies, "eat again love, eat again." Copyright © The copyright to each selection is held by its author. All rights reserved.