Oyster River Pages: Who are the writers who have made you who you are?
Azin Neishaboori: If I had to name only one, it would have to be Dostoyevsky. But Milan Kundera, Kurt Vonnegut, Heinrich Boll, and Natalia Ginsburg also influenced my worldview tremendously. Vonnegut I hold so dear as I believe I am still seeking answers to the same questions he was seeking answers for: the question of war, and how its perpetrators justify it for many. Of the contemporary writers, I think I learned a lot from Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, Paul Beatty, Zadie Smith, and Jhumpa Lahiri.
ORP: What is the space that has shaped you the most?
AN: I grew up in Tehran, Iran and left it after finishing college. Living in the chaos of a big Metropolis like Tehran perhaps formed the core of my character. Immigration too was a transformative experience. At the risk of sounding cliché, I also have to add motherhood. I think I had a mini-metamorphosis after the birth of my second daughter. Perhaps it was due to having maternity leave, and being left alone with my newborn and my thoughts.
ORP: What role does the writer play in society?
AN: The writers/artists I feel most indebted to and revere are those who challenged the prevalent and often stigmatizing narrative about the marginalized and contributed to changing them. I believe this is the most laudable role any form of art can play.
ORP: What’s next for you artistically?
AN: I hope to publish a collection of my short stories both in English and in Farsi. (I write my stories first in Farsi and then translate them to English.)
ORP: How does this work connect to your personal experiences and identity?
AN: A lot of the emotions described in this particular piece are my firsthand experience. I immigrated to the US in the post 9/11 era. It took me years to be able to understand, formulate and articulate what I felt and experienced during those years. I think this piece captures a part of that.
Azin Neishaboori was born and raised in Iran where she attended college. She moved to the US in 2003 to attend Penn State University where she received her PhD in Electrical Engineering. In her writing, she aspires to question the prevalent narrative, and hopes to share an authentic and non-politicized perspective of Iranians and other Middle Easterners with the readers. Read and listen to her short story “Senowbar Khanom.”