Exile Hangout: Iran
In January a distinguished panel of Iranian writers and journalists including Marina Nemat (moderator), Omid Fallahazad, Moniro Ravanipour, Shahrnush Parsipur, and Roya Hakakian spoke about risking imprisonment for writing against the regime, the pattern of repression against opposition writers, the government’s crackdown on free press, and the condition of writing in exile.
About the Writers
Marina Nemat (moderator) @MarinaNemat
Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years in Evin, a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution. She came to Canada in 1991 and has called it home ever since. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, was published in Canada by Penguin Canada in 2007, has been published in 28 other countries, and has been an international bestseller. In 2007, Marina received the inaugural Human Dignity Award from the European Parliament, and in 2008, she received the prestigious Grinzane Prize in Italy. In 2008/2009, she was an Aurea Fellow at University of Toronto’s Massey College, where she wrote her second book, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed, which was published by Penguin Canada in 2010.
Omid Fallahazad is an Iranian-American writer who was born and raised in Iran and moved to the U.S. in 2001. By then some of his writings had slipped past the censors. He writes both in Farsi and in English. One of his English pieces recently appeared in Tremors, an anthology of Iranian-American writers.
Moniro Ravanipour was born in the city of Booshehr in Iran in 1952. She has eight books published in Iran, and translations of some of her work have appeared in the West. In 2007, she was a visiting fellow in the International Writers Program at Brown University’s Watson Institute. Ravanipour’s work, considered nonconformist and honest in its portrayal of Iranians, has elicited government scrutiny in recent years. In late 2006, all copies of her new book were stripped from bookstore shelves in Iran in a countrywide police swoop. Two more of her novels are currently under review by Iran‘s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Shahrnush Parsipur was born and raised in Tehran. Her first short stories were published in the late 1960s, and since then she has published many novels and short stories. After the success of the Islamic revolution of 1979, she spent more than 4 years in Iranian prisons as a prisoner of conscience. In 1990, she published a short novel, Women without Men, and the Iranian government banned the book and put pressure her to stop writing. In 1994 she went to the United State and wrote her memoir of her time in prison. Parsipur currently lives in the United States and was the recipient of the first International Writers Project Fellowship from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.
Roya Hakakian @RoyaTheWriter
Roya Hakakian was born 1966 in Iran and is an Iranian-American poet, journalist and writer living in the United States. Hakakian became well known for her memoir, Journey from the Land of No in 2004. Her essays on Iranian issues appear in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and on NPR. Hakakian was a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and serves on the board of Refugees International.