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Jasmin Darznik        

Iranian Immigrant; Author & Cultural Historian

Jasmin Darznik was born in Tehran to an Iranian mother and European father and immigrated to the United States during the Islamic Revolution. An award-winning writer, she is the author of the forthcoming book, The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life, a moving memoir of an Iranian-American woman’s discovery of her mother’s secret past. Audiences will be enthralled as Darznik takes them on an emotional journey through pre- and post-revolutionary Iran and one family’s challenging path to freedom and understanding.

The Good Daughter opens one day following her father’s funeral. Darznik is helping her mother pack up to move, when a photograph falls from a stack of old letters. The girl in it is her mother. She is wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stands a man whom she has never seen before.

At first, Darznik’s mother, Lili, refuses to share any information. Months later, she receives the first of ten cassette tapes revealing a wrenching hidden story of her family’s true origins in Iran: her mother’s troubled history of abuse and neglect and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life. The final tape reveals that her sister, Sara, is still living in Iran.

Darznik skillfully weaves the stories of three generations of Iranian women’s battles with marriage, divorce, and poverty into a unique, intimate, and beautifully-written tale.

“We were a world of two, my mother and I, until I started turning into an American girl. That’s when she started talking to me about the Good Daughter. The Good Daughter lived in Iran. She didn’t talk back as I had learned to do in this broken-down, devil-riddled country. In fact, she didn’t talk much at all. The Good Daughter listened. She understood —always— about manners and modesty. She sat by her mother’s side and lowered her eyes whenever a man looked at her. And she was very, very pretty, with a sweet face and long, flowing hair just like the maidens in the Persian miniatures. The Good Daughter became a taunt. A warning. An omen.” – From The Good Daughter

Darznik’s essays, short stories, and book reviews have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Women’s Review of Books, ZYZZYVA, and other publications. She has received awards and distinctions from the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony, The San Francisco Foundation, The Marin Arts Council, The Iowa Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story.

Before receiving her doctorate in English from Princeton University, Darznik was an attorney specializing in immigration and family law. Now a professor at Washington and Lee University and a visiting professor at the University of Virginia, she teaches creative writing and literature, including courses on the treatment of ethnic identity, immigration history and human rights debates in contemporary fiction and creative nonfiction. She lives in Charlottesville, VA.

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