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Author of the week: Sahar Delijani

Sahar Delijani came into the world under harrowing circumstances.

Sahar Delijani came into the world under harrowing circumstances, said Edward M. Eveld in The Kansas City Star. Nearly 30 years ago, the future fiction writer was born inside Iran’s notorious Evin prison as the child of political dissenters who’d been jailed in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. When Delijani was young, her parents kept the stories of their incarceration age-appropriate, talking about the friends they’d made there and the bracelet her father crafted for her out of date pits. Delijani yearned to know more, though, when she reached adulthood. “I sat my mother down and we talked and talked,” she says. “I learned that even while she was in the pains of labor they took her for another interrogation. I didn’t know that.”

Delijani, who has fictionalized her family’s experiences in her debut novel—Children of the Jacaranda Tree—concedes that her parents were the lucky ones, said Laura Barnett in The Guardian (U.K.). While they were freed within two years of her birth, eventually settling in California, Delijani’s uncle was among the thousands of prisoners executed during the summer of 1988. “We still don’t even know how many people were killed, because they were all placed in mass graves,” says Delijani. “And because families were afraid of speaking, a lot of people didn’t even say if their daughter, son, or husband was missing.” Delijani hopes that her book will help enlighten readers, including those in Iran, about the period. “They killed so many people. If we don’t know that, we don’t know how to react the next time.”

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