Firouz, Anahita (Homa) 1953-
FIROUZ, Anahita (Homa) 1953-
Born August 8, 1953, in Tehran, Iran; immigrated to United States, 1982; daughter of Eskandar (a minister for the environment) and Iran (Ala) Firouz; married Farrokh Radjy (an owner of a software company), April 30, 1979; children: Anousha (daughter), Amir-Hussein (son). Ethnicity: "Iranian." Education: Boston University, B.S., 1974, M.S., 1975. Religion: Muslim.
Home—Pittsburgh, PA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Little, Brown & Co., 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
Writer. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, instructor in contemporary fiction, 2003. Has also worked as a television producer and interviewer in Tehran, Iran.
In the Walled Gardens, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.
In the Walled Gardens has been translated into German, Dutch, Greek, and Persian.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A novel about Iran set after the 1978 revolution.
Iranian-born writer and educator Anahita Firouz told CA: "I wanted to be a writer ever since I was fourteen and read Crime and Punishment." That ambition was fulfilled with the publication of Firouz's first book, In the Walled Gardens, a novel about Iran that is set in the late 1970s, before the Islamic Revolution. The novel, which was on the bestseller list of New Delhi's Hindustan Times, is a love story that takes place amid the political turbulence of the era, presented from two different narrators: an aristocratic woman and a Marxist revolutionary. It describes a world that has since disappeared. In a Bookreporter.com interview, Firouz stated that "the very structure and existence of that society … have changed forever, also in how those individuals define and see themselves."
Most critics agreed that Firouz successfully portrays the cultural, social, and political scene in Iran as it was during the pre-revolution era. A Publishers Weeklyreviewer, however, found the narrative "wandering," and Geneive Abdo wrote in the Washington Post Book World that she regretted the lack of historical background. Daniel Cariaga wrote in the Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, that "the author's admirable skills include an observant ear toward the niceties of people, an eye for cultural details and an almost photographic sense of place."
Firouz told CA: "Reading novels first got me interested in writing. By my early teens, I was a passionate reader of European and American classics, Persian poets, and contemporary novelists. It seemed like an astonishing feat to capture time and place with their infinite mysteries and to write characters that felt so alive.
"I see history as a vortex, perhaps because I have gone through a revolution and its endless consequences. I am especially interested in how individuals assert their free will as they face the realities of life, and the obstacles history and society inflict upon them. Both of my grandfathers greatly influenced me as a writer. As a child, I witnessed how their political involvements impacted their private lives. I am fascinated by the effects of politics and ideology and how they make and unmake an individual and how they propel and distort and create turbulence. Turbulence is all about emotion. I think both love and politics are mysterious in the final analysis; how we engage and disengage them is fundamentally personal, visceral, and emotional.
"In my writing, my characters come first and bring everything with them. I write without an outline and think in paragraphs and always edit rigorously before moving on. If things are going well, I put on loud music to block out the world but also when I get stuck and need to set things in motion. I do a great deal of research, but since the story and characters matter most, I prefer to incorporate it all once I have finished a book.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that my fingers only seem to know and do the writing, because I never know what they will divulge until I see the words on my computer screen: the arrangement of sentences, the inexplicable traits of characters, the flow of the narrative. Of course there is a good deal of skill and discipline necessary in writing, but I have also learned to have faith in waiting for ideas and solutions that come in their own time and in often unexpected ways."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. 1918.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. 826.
Kliatt, November, 2003, Nola Theiss, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2002, Daniel Cariaga, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. E2.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 6, 2002, Ellen Wilson, review of In the Walled Gardens.
Publishers Weekly, June 10, 2002, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. 39.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 8, 2002, Christine Thomas, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. 5.
Washington Post Book World, August 21, 2002, Geneive Abdo, review of In the Walled Gardens, p. C2.
Anahita Firouz Home Page,http://www.anahitafirouz.com (September 21, 2004).
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 13, 2002), interview with Anahita Firouz.
MostlyFiction.com,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (August 11, 2002), Bill Richardson, review of In the Walled Gardens.