Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’,, August 2006 Roseto degli Abruzzi 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 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 Two thirds of the works are previously unpublished.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)