Praise For: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora’

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

“Since the Iranian revolution, writing by women from both inside and outside Iran has become the most interesting writing by Iranians. Women in Iran are challenged by their society to write, and those outside are driven to it by their inner needs. The present book collects 52 poems and prose pieces by women in the American Iranian diaspora. The pieces are arranged in a loose sequence of categories that suggest the experience of exile itself. Here, on the dividing line between past and future, memory and desire underlie the experience of exile and a new becoming. Memory links the writers to childhood, foods, and relations within extended families in Iran, but desire drives them to find or forge a new identity in a new culture. Many of the contributors are published writers and poets, teachers, or artists, skilled with words in their new language, and their works are often moving. Particularly fascinating are the memories of Karim (English and comparative literature, San Jose State Univ.) and of an American woman who spent nine years of her youth in Iran. Perceptive readers will also find unsettling views of the US that will challenge complacency. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates, graduate students. — W. L. Hanaway, emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

“Might we present this stunning collection of voices to the U.S. government?
Might this be the perfect moment for bridges of language and sensibility— delicious humanity—to define and connect us? Cast aside the grim proclamations of power and threat!
Gratitude to Persis Karim for this healing tonic of pomegranate wisdom and pleasure.” —Naomi Shihab Nye, Poet and Author of You & Yours and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

“In these tender and not-so-tender pages you’ll find the barely tellable story of what really happened to dreams deferred. Through the vivid, sometimes spellbinding accounts they provide, these gifted writers speak powerfully to the subject of displacement.” —Al Young, Poet Laureate of California, from the Foreword

“This is a surprising collection. . . . Persis Karim has located a community of sensitive and articulate cultural observers and mapped that explosion of creativity for us.”—Michael Beard, co-editor of Middle Eastern Literatures and author of Naguib Mahfouz: From Regional Fame to Global Recognition

“[These writings] command our attention, not only for the range of their subject matter and literary artistry, but for representing a multiplicity of voices, the newest patch in this quilt of American culture. They are allegories of our enriched nation. . . . the real thing.” —Zohreh T. Sullivan, author of Exiled Memories: Stories of Iranian Diaspora

“We have to thank Persis Karim for this wonderful book and for these powerful selections; they offer an alternative to the currently politicized and one-sided view of Iran and Iranian culture.” — Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

“Iran is a land of paradoxes. It is also undergoing a momentous and profound transformation. The delightfully diverse group of women assembled in this important and timely collection offers a panoramic view of these complex and dynamic changes. Persis Karim ought to be congratulated.” — Farzaneh Milani, author of Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers

 

Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’, San Francisco Chronicle, November 26, 2006

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

When novelist Alice Walker appears Wednesday night at the “Enemy Nations, Emerging Voices” event in San Francisco, she’ll be participating in a movement of writers, artists, intellectuals and others urging Americans to look beyond the political epithets thrown at Iran, North Korea and other “evil” countries.

San Francisco Chronicle article, 'Let Me Tell You Where I've Been', November 16, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle article (November 26, 2006)
‘Emerging Voices’ transcend politics/Hearing top artists from ‘evil’ countries
Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer

Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’, Amazon.com, August 2006

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

Amazon.com review
Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA), August 2006
“Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing By Women of the Iranian Diaspora” is a totally new first anthology of writing by women of the Iranian diaspora. Revealing unique outlooks in a formerly male dominated, patriarchal literary tradition, these vivid works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction give authentic artistic voice to the silence of the veil stereotype frequently perceived by the West. Over one hundred selections are presented by more than fifty authors, some famous and some unknown. Two thirds of the works are previously unpublished. The authors selected are a diverse group who represent a cross section, or a complex community of intelligent, sensitive, articulate women in a rapidly changing world. The voices of these writers have been named “Allegories of our enriched nation… the real thing,” by Zohreh T. Sullivan, author of “Exiled Memories: Stories of the Iranian Diaspora.” A list of the contributors include Tara Bahrampour, Susan Atefat-Peckham, Firoozeh Dumas, Farnoosh Moshiri, Azadeh Moaveni, and other less familiar writers such as Leyla Momeny, Gelareh Asayesh, Niloofar Kalaam, and Farnaz Fatemi. Certainly many kudos are owed to Professor Persis Karim, teacher of English and comparative literature at San Jose State University, for amassing this wondrous, stunning collection. The selections are organized by theme into six different main areas: Home Stories, For Tradition, Woman’s Duty, Axis of Evil, Beyond, and Tales Left Untold Subjects include differentiating dual and multi-cultural identities, sexuality, love, traditional expectation and its failure, politics, gender, blood and suffering, and the desperate poignancy of silence. There is so much to absorb in this collection, it is so very rich. It is certainly a fragrant beginning to enable Western to grasp the barest outlines of the complexity and courage of these women and their worlds and cultures. It is impossible to read any part of this book and come away unchanged. “But she wants to step into/the whiteness of this inferno/and search Madison/for someone in his life/with the power to change him:/daughter, father, wife./She would become that person/undress him in the daytime/stand naked in front of him./say, look at what we’ve wrapped in./See this soft scraped creamy dark thing? It/s life.” Farnaz Fatemi (p. 240)

Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’, Library Journal, July 2006

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

from Library Journal, July 2006
This deep, emotional anthology of poetry, essays, and memoirs edited by Karim (English & Comparative Literature, San Jose State University, CA; co-editor, A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans) represents the growth women’s writing that occurred after the Iranian revolution. The more than 100 selections–most never before published–are organized around six general themes: home and away, family and tradition, gender, politics, love, and silence. They describe the insights of exile, the immigrant experience, and the gripping emotions of the powerful events that sent Iranians to the United States in the 1980s. The rich poetry covers such topics as family traditions, the war in Iraq, and the anxiety and lure of returning to the homeland as well as the difficulty of living there. This vast and compelling collection includes contributions from some 50 accomplished writers, among them Susan Atefat-Peckham and Nika Khanjani. It will offer readers a moving portrait of the Iranian American experience and the hope of possibilities that can lie within a new culture. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries. ~Susan McClellan, Avalon P.L. Pittsburgh

Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’, Publishers’ Weekly, June 2006

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

'Let Me Tell You Where I've Been' · Publishers' Weekly Review

‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’ · Publishers’ Weekly Review

from Publishers’ Weekly
The diversity of voices represented in this stunning collection of poetry, fiction and nonfiction by women of Iranian descent shatters their narrow image in the U.S. Though none are well known, most of the 53 authors live in the U.S. and 15 have been published in journals if not books. One writes about a woman’s relationship with her chador. Another remembers her desire, as a young girl, to distance herself from the “old-world values” espoused by her parents. A woman who sought refuge in Germany conveys the longing she felt to return to her birthplace by detailing a market scene and how the taste of raw walnuts made her feel at home again. Like other émigrés, the women who fled Iran after the 1979 revolution have continued to feel strong ties with their homeland. Many of those now living in the U.S., Canada or the U.K. have grappled with such feelings in an era when cars in the U.S. were emblazoned with bumper stickers reading “Iranians Go Home” and “We Play Cowboys and Iranians.” Though many contributions avoid politics, several writers illustrate heartbreaking incidents of stereotyping that reveal the struggle of facing pervasive social suspicion. Touching on universal themes of love and loss, exile and longing, politics and war, this collection derives its cumulative power from its authors’ subtle, uniquely female perceptions. (June) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.