Our friends from the Emirates Literature Foundation share three books by Iranian authors you need to read…

If you are as fascinated by other countries and cultures as our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation, then you will really enjoy their recommendations of books by Iranian authors. All the books are published in English and provide insight into one of the oldest cultures in the world.

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

call me zebra

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s novel, Call Me Zebra, is a story of a determined woman who uses literature as a defence mechanism. Sounds intriguing, right?

The protagonist is displaced from her country of birth and unwelcome in her country of residence. She’s intelligent but eccentric and uses her knowledge of books to cope with the hatred and violence she encounters. Her snarkiness makes her a bit like Marmite; you love her or hate her. We think she is a real modern heroine, flawed and courageous.

Oloomi won a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Call Me Zebra and a Whiting Award for her earlier work, Fra Keeler. We are eagerly anticipating her third book, Savage Tongues, scheduled for release in August 2021.

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When Skateboards Will Be Free by Said Sayrafiezadeh

When Skateboards Will Be Free

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has an Iranian-born father and an American Jewish mother who were both active in the Socialist Worker’s Party. When Skateboards Will Be Free is his story of being abandoned by his father and separated from his siblings. His childhood was spent at party meetings waiting for the worker’s revolution and being deprived of simple pleasures – like a skateboard. This memoir of abuse and neglect and would have been tragic if not for Sayrafiezadeh’s masterful injection of humour.

It is easy to see why it won the 2010 Whiting Award for non-fiction. He has since published a collection of short stories, four plays and several personal essays.

The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik

The Good Daughter starts with Jasmin Darznik’s accidental discovery of a photograph from her mother’s first marriage, which leads to the realisation that her mother has many secrets. Those secrets are the reason why Darznik could never understand her mother’s motivations and fulfil her expectations of being a good daughter. This autobiography will strike a chord with many people who are third culture kids or trying to raise third culture kids.

If you liked this feature, don’t miss the Emirates Literature Foundation’s podcast, the Boundless Book Club, for book recommendations from the team and in-depth talks with world-famous authors. And for news, views and more on literature, check out the Emirates Literature Foundation blog, and keep an eye on their Youtube channel, where exciting things are coming soon!