“Each story in Divided Loyalties is like a new window into Iran’s complex post-revolutionary history, its hardships as well as its beauties, its griefs as well as its unwavering will to survive. A touching, fascinating read.”
—Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree
“Shidmehr narrates the lives of her characters with as much fluid intensity and grace as they are lived.”
– Musharraf Ali Farooqi, author of Between Clay and Dust and The Story of a Widow
“Nilofar Shidmehr is a master storyteller. Divided Loyalties shows girls and women at the intersection of place and time during pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. Each of these carefully examined lives is a fierce flame that will startle and burn in the memory long after you’ve finished this book.”
— Maureen Medved, author of Black Star
“Divided Loyalties weaves rich and complex stories spanning decades of Iran’s contemporary history and provides an intimate glimpse of lives scattered across different worlds. The stories of the characters in these pages speak to the universal experience of love, loss, and longing.”
— Payam Akhavan, author of In Search of a Better World
“A stunningly intimate portrait of the lives of Iranian women. Tenderly observed and hauntingly portrayed, Nilofar Shidmehr’s stories of love, loss, and exile shine with a rare grace.”
– Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of Among the Ruins
“Iran is a complicated country with thousands of years of history. In Divided Loyalties, with a deft hand, Nilofar Shidmehr takes us through the suffering of its people over the last four decades. An important book that sheds light on how a people can survive their darkest years.”
–Marina Nemat, author of Prisoner of Tehran
“These complex and intimate stories of Iranian women are like nothing I’ve ever read before. Nilofar Shidmehr’s perspective is wise, unique and compelling.”
–Farzana Doctor, author of All Inclusive
“Shidmehr’s intimate tone adds a special poignancy to these stories of women harbouring secrets.”
— Rabindranath Maharaj, author of The Amazing Absorbing Boy
“In bold and uncompromising prose, Shidmehr’s stories move between Iran and Canada, and compel us to reflect on complex issues of class, gender, and racial inequities.”
— Nima Naghibi, author of Women Write Iran: Nostalgia and Human Rights from the Diaspora
“Nilofar Shidmehr’s collection of short stories is accurately titled. The divided loyalties that torment these Persian women, whether they are still living in Iran or have emigrated to Canada, is her painful subject matter, and Shidmehr examines every nuance of it in fiction that is fierce, meticulously observed, beautifully crafted, and authoritative. A stunning work.”
–Keith Maillard, author of Gloria and Twin Studies
“Nilofar Shidmehr offers to readers deep stories of complex Iranian women characters. They are compassionate, strong and determined. This is a beautifully written collection with poetic language.”
— Monia Mazigh, author of Hope Has Two Daughters
“The voice of Nilofar Shidmehr’s poetry moves restlessly between two imagined lives: one, a life rooted in the past and in Iran, a life of strict gendered expectations but also of continuity and familiarity; the other, a life in Canada, relatively uncompromised by gender segregation, but yet still troubled by the pain of exile and others’ prejudice. These poems speak plainly of mothers, of daughters, of lovers, but always beneath each simple story is the pulse of an intelligent, sensuous desire. These poems are feminist, moist, fragrant! Each word bursts, ripe in the mouth, like pomegranate.”
~Sonnet Sonnet L’Abbé (Canadian Poet and Critic, Winner of Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award, 2000)
“In this stirring collection Between Lives, Shidmehr’s direct voice and unflinching gaze put her among such great activist poets as
artin Espada, Dionne Brand, and Pablo Neruda. With a clear gaze and arresting imagery. Shidmehr brings to light the violence and injustice of women’s lives in Iran and in the diaspora. Fully wrought and deeply personal, this is a necessary book by an accomplished writer.
~Elizabeth Bachinsky, nominee for Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry.
These poems are the untold stories of contemporary Persian women’s lives, lives portrayed with intimacy and lyricism, despite their subjugation. These are poetic meditations that only a poet simultaneously intimate with a place, and exiled from it, can offer. In this book, men and women are like ‘fire and cotton,’ and must be kept apart; they are ‘flammable with the slightest spark.’ Nilofer Shidmehr’s poems burn with a fierce, haunting fire.
~Rachel Rose, winner Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry
Shirin and Salt Man
Shirin and Salt Man is a novella in verse, which tells the story of a young modern day Iranian woman, Shirin. She is an ordinary girl from Kermanshah born before the Islamic Revolution, who imagines herself to be an incarnation of princess Shirin, depicted in the ancient Persian classic Shirin and Khosro. At first she tries to shape her life to that of the myth, but later decides to change her destiny and become the author of her own story. She leaves her husband and runs away with the Salt Man, a 1700 year old mummy on display at the Iranian National Museum in Tehran.
The poems form a compelling narrative of the life of a contemporary Iranian woman whose voice has been muted by Khosro, her fundamentalist and traditional husband. In an environment where the dominance of men is written in stone and where only men have the authority for fashioning and telling stories, Shirin reclaims a place for herself as a lover and teller of stories. She re-enters life through cracks of narrative to invent Shirin anew, one whose life-path radically diverges from that of her namesake, Shirin of Nezami’s story. She digs out Farhad, the mythical lover of princess Shirin, who has now become the Salt Man, from under the dust and stones of history and she gives him another opportunity to love her. In transforming Salt Man to another Farhad, Shirin creates a new history—one shaped and narrated by a feminine voice.