Abdoh, Salar

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ABDOH, Salar

* indicates that a listing has been compiled from secondary sources believed to be reliable, but has not been personally verified for this edition by the author sketched.

PERSONAL: Born in Tehran, Iran; immigrated to the United States. Education: Graduated from University of California—Berkeley; City College of New York, M.A. (creative writing).

ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Picador USA, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: City University of New York, City College, New York, NY, assistant professor of creative writing.


The Poet Game (novel), Picador USA (New York, NY), 2000.

With Opium, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2004.

Portions of The Poet Game were originally published in Bomb magazine. Contributor to Reza Abdoh's play Quotations from a Ruined City.

SIDELIGHTS: Salar Abdoh's first book, The Poet Game, a spy novel about Islamic terrorism in the United States, discusses a problem that is very close to his heart. Islamic fundamentalists drove Abdoh, his father, and two brothers from their native Iran shortly after the revolution of 1979. His father passed away six months after they arrived in the United States, leaving his teenage sons homeless. After a period of living on the streets of Los Angeles, all three eventually settled down and pursued challenging careers. Sardar became an engineer, Reza a well-known director and playwright, and Salar a professor of English literature.

Many reviewers commented about the ambitious scope of Abdoh's first novel. The Poet Game "balanc[es] bombing conspiracies and international arms trading with literary allusions and psychological intrigue," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Protagonist Sami Amir is sent to New York by the Iranian government to stop a plot by Islamic terrorists to blow up city landmarks. But first, Amir has to figure out which of the many competing groups in New York is the real threat. Libyans, an American arms dealer, a Pakistani bomb-maker, and a beautiful American spy posing as a stripper are all "vividly described," thought the Publishers Weekly reviewer. Beyond the concrete problem of figuring out who the terrorists are, "as in all good noir novels, a series of deeper, more paranoid, and more personal questions soon arises," Megan Harlan noted in the New York Times Book Review. Why has Amir been sent to New York, and whom can he trust?

In a Sunday Herald interview with Barry Didcock, Abdoh explained how he developed the plot for his novel, which was inspired in part by the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and draws on the real-life clandestine struggles between various terrorist groups and intelligence services. "There's a lot of material out there. You just follow it," he said. "You just have to be a student of the game, I guess, and after a while try to go one step ahead of it and try to see what might happen in the future based on your reading of the material."



aRude Magazine, spring, 1996, Adnan Ashraf, interview with Salar Abdoh.

Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Ronnie H. Terpening, review of The Poet Game, p. 97.

New York Times Book Review, February 27, 2000, Megan Harlan, review of The Poet Game, p. 22.

New York Times Magazine, November 18, 2001, Salar Abdoh, "Streetwise," p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1999, review of ThePoet Game, p. 61.

Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), July 21, 2002, Barry Didcock, interview with Salar Abdoh.


Fresh Air Online,http://freshair.npr.org/ (January 29, 2004), "Salar Abdoh."

Palm Digital Media,http://www.palmdigitalmedia.com/ (January 29, 2004), "Salar Abdoh."

Words withoutBorders,http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/ (January 29, 2004), "Salar Abdoh."*