Persis Karim was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by her immigrant French mother, Evelyne M. Karim, and Iranian father, Alexander Karim. Although she has deep roots in California, she is mindful of the voices and experiences of her parents, and their histories. These stories and experiences have made her cognizant of the power of language, places, and experiences that exist beyond the realm of the present.
Since 1999, she has been a professor of literature and creative writing at San Jose State University (SJSU), where she teaches world literature, comparative literature and American literature, as well as courses in creative writing. She also directs the Persian Studies program and coordinates the Middle East Studies program at SJSU. As an early pioneer of Iranian-American literature, she has helped foster an appreciation for the emerging literature of the Iranian diaspora. She has authored numerous articles on Iranian diaspora literature for academic publications such as Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME), MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, and Iranian Studies. She is contributing author and editor of three anthologies of literature: Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers (2013), Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (2006) both published by the University of Arkansas Press. She is also co-editor of A World Between: Poems Short Stories and Essays by Iranian Americans (George Braziller, Inc., 1999).