Interview with Farideh Goldin

Name: Farideh Goldin
(Originally published in my old website, in 2005)


Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Shiraz, Iran

Q: Can you tell us your latest book news?
A: Wedding Song: Memoirs of an Iranian Jewish Woman is recognized as a rare documentation of Jewish women’s lives in the beginning of the 20th century Iran

Q: How old were you when you first started writing?
A: 14, but then I stopped shortly after. Read the prologue to the book. I didn’t go back to writing until 3 decades later.

Q: When did you first realize you had the potential to be a writer?
A: When I was in high school and my friends loved hearing my essays read in the classroom.

Q: What was your inspiration to write your first novel?
A: I wrote a memoir. It started from telling my daughters bedtime stories about my childhood in Iran.

Q: Is there anyone or anything that inspired you to write?
A: I returned to school when my children were still young. I was fortunate that our local school, Old Dominion University, has a Women’s Studies Department. My teachers there became my mentors and my friends, encouraging me to write. Anita Clair Fellman, the head of the department, Janet Bing and Nancy Bazin were instrumental in shaping my writing career. Later I returned to ODU to study creative writing. My thesis director, Sheri Reynolds, is an unbelievable writer and mentor. Janet Peery and Luisa Igloria also helped me tremendously. Mostly, I think any writer needs a mentor. Carolyn Rhodes, a retired English teacher at ODU, devoted much time and love to my work. I am grateful for all their love and dedication.

Q: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A: I am haunted by my early life in a Jewish ghetto. Being a Jew and a woman in a Moslem country have definitely shaped my thoughts and my writings.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
A: I love details. I love to highlight women’s work that have often been ignored. Therefore, you can smell and taste Iranian food in between my words.

Q: What genre are you most comfortable writing?
A: Creative Nonfiction

Q: How do you come up with the title(s) for your book(s)?
A: The women around me, my grandmother, aunts and family friends used to sing wedding songs, which I sprinkle throughout my stories. The book was originally called VASOONAK: A Wedding Song. Vasoonak is the Iranian Jewish word (Judi word) for wedding songs.

Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: We all have stories that are worth telling. Keep your family stories alive. Record them. Write them down.

Q: How much of the novel is realistic?
A: It is nonfiction.

Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
A: My own life, my mother’s, my grandmothers, and other women I knew.

Q: What books have most influenced your life?
A: I love reading books by international women writers. Their stories empower me.

Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: Sheri Reynolds

Q: What are you reading now?
A: I have been researching and writing about Iranian women writers and recently about the explosion of memoir writing by Iranian women (find the article on my web site). I am reading an Iranian novel by Ziya Pirzad, cheragh hara khamoush meekonam, I will turn the lights off.

Q: What new author has grasped your interest?
A: The Iranian writer Marjane Satrapi
I enjoy giving talks around the country and abroad about Iran. When I first came to the U.S. in 1975, most Americans wouldn’t recognize the name of my country of birth. However, since the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated, most American are curious about a country that was once America’s biggest ally. They would like to hear about the people of Iran through those who experienced it rather than just the news media.

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