SAÏDEH PAKRAVAN

I was born into an Iranian family which, through circumstances that I explain elsewhere was French-speaking for several generations. I started reading at age three and was writing from age six. As soon as I understood what a writer was, I knew I wanted to be one. My grandmother was a well-known and award-winning writer in French. My father, a government official, wrote. So did my mother. When I grew older and discovered the remarkable story of my ancestry on both sides, I found out that my great-grandmother, half-Austrian and half-French, had also written stories and plays.

       I have lived in many countries with my main anchor in France where I still was during and several years after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. After a foray into opposition to the mullahs’ ugly regime and an unfortunate business venture, I moved with my family to Virginia, outside Washington D.C., where we lived until 2015 when we moved definitely back to France.

       French remains my first language. English which I learned as a child in Pakistan and India and have been speaking since is a close second. Then comes Persian, followed by a smattering of other languages.

       I have never stopped writing. Until I moved to the States, I wrote in French, with not much published save some newspaper articles and a novel published in installments in a small magazine. With the switch to writing almost entirely in English--while also working full-time as a business writer--I picked up speed. A book of stories, The Arrest of Hoveyda, Stories of the Iranian Revolution, was published, as were stories, essays, memoirs, and poems in literary magazines.  

       Also, for nine years I was the editor-in-chief of a cross-cultural magazine in English, Chanteh, aimed mainly at the Iranian-American community. I believe I owe my rather limited success as a writer to the fact that in writing as in everything else I dislike limits and categorization. Considering myself a writer, not an Iranian woman writer, I appeal neither to gender studies departments nor to the wider public immediately interested in the exotic and the ethnic. 

      I have to admit that writing is as much slavery as a calling and that on most days I’d rather be doing anything, anything, rather than sit at my computer. Still, that’s the way I’m wired, that’s the way it has always been and will be till the day I die. Anything I think, see, feel or imagine has to come out in this endless flow of tens of thousands of words of which in recent years more than a handful has found its way in print.

      Since 2015, a number of my novels have been translated in French (several by myself) and published in Paris by Belfond publishers. Also, the poetry publisher Caractères has brought out  a collection of poems in French, Entendu ce matin,  paralleling one written in English, What I Heard this Morning, several poems of which have appeared in Gargoyle Magazine in the States.

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