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My Shadow Is My Skin

My Shadow Is My Skin
Voices from the Iranian Diaspora

Through more than thirty essays, My Shadow Is My Skin presents a broad, personal, and inclusive view of the Iranian diaspora in the US and reveals the intricate ways in which the diaspora continues to evolve.

March 2020
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296 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 |

The Iranian revolution of 1979 launched a vast, global diaspora, with many Iranians establishing new lives in the United States. In the four decades since, the diaspora has expanded to include not only those who emigrated immediately after the revolution but also their American-born children, more recent immigrants, and people who married into Iranian families, all of whom carry their own stories of trauma, triumph, adversity, and belonging that reflect varied and nuanced perspectives on what it means to be Iranian or Iranian American. The essays in My Shadow Is My Skin are these stories.

This collection brings together thirty-two authors, both established and emerging, whose writing captures the diversity of Iranian diasporic experiences. Reflecting on the Iranian American experience over the past forty years and shedding new light on themes of identity, duality, and alienation in twenty-first-century America, the authors present personal narratives of immigration, sexuality, marginalization, marriage, and religion that offer an antidote to the news media’s often superficial portrayals of Iran and the people who have a connection to it. My Shadow Is My Skin illuminates a community that rarely gets to tell its own story.

  • Foreword, Persis Karim
  • Introduction
  • The Summer I Disappeared, Jasmin Darznik
  • Sacrifices, Iraj Isaac Rahmim
  • Shadow Nation, Cyrus M. Copeland
  • Two Minutes to Midnight, Daniel Rafinejad
  • When We Were Lions, Mehdi Tavana Okasi
  • Fortune-Tellers, Dena Afrasiabi
  • Silkscreen, Omid Fallahazad
  • Hookah, Once upon a Time (Pastiche after Roberto Bolaño), Poupeh Missaghi
  • Think of the Trees, Leila Emery
  • Pushing the Boundaries, Dena Rod
  • Uninvited Guest, Roia Ferrazares
  • The Name on My Coffee Cup, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
  • Negotiating Memories, Amy Malek
  • In Praise of Big Noses, Persis Karim
  • Transmutations of/by Language, Raha Namy
  • Gilad, My Enemy, Salar Abdoh
  • Two Countries, One Divided Self, Roger Sedarat
  • Mothering across the Cultural Divide, Katherine Whitney
  • My Mom Killed Michael Jackson, Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh
  • Am I an Immigrant?, Roxanne Varzi
  • 1,916 Days, Mandana Chaffa
  • Culture beyond Language, Leyla Farzaneh
  • Forget Me Not, Shideh Etaat
  • Errand, Babak Elahi
  • The Color of the Bricks, Farnaz Fatemi
  • Renounce and Abjure All Allegiance, Renata Khoshroo Louwers
  • Learning Farsi, Darius Atefat-Peckham
  • Delam Tang Shodeh, Shireen Day
  • Walking with Zahra, Layla Razavi
  • Halva, Nazanine Attaran
  • Her Orange-Blossom Tea, Maryam Atai
  • The Iranians of Mercer Island, Siamak Vossoughi
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contributors

Katherine Whitney
Berkeley, California

Katherine Whitney first wrote on the Iranian diaspora in the anthology Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race & Themselves. She graduated from Duke University and received an MA in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University.

Leila Emery
Holly Springs, North Carolina

Leila Emery is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Parentheses Journal, Matter, and Lines+Stars. She is a graduate of Smith College and holds an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University.


“The narratives in this collection go a long way toward making Iranian American immigrants visible. Offering familiar stories with a distinctive flavor, My Shadow Is My Skin deftly explores their mixed feelings of pride and love, and of dislocation and criticism, for both the lost ancestral homeland and the new world, providing an important addition to our ever-unfolding understanding of American immigrant experiences.”
Washington Post

“[My Shadow Is My Skin] offers a powerful antidote to the reductive images by giving voice to a chorus of experiences by Iranian American writers. These are vivid and powerful human stories told by a diverse collection of writers who span a range of immigration experiences...At a time when we need to see Iranian Americans are indeed here, and that their stories matter, we now have a wonderful new collection that offers more nuanced and powerful images than those being continuously recycled in the headlines.”
The Rumpus

My Shadow is My Skin, beautifully and aptly named, presents a collection of incredibly personal, sometimes painful stories. With a range of experiences and topics, such as religion, sexuality, racism, and war, the essays provide a deeper look at a community often misunderstood by our peers, and misrepresented by the country we call home. The Iranian-American story is long and complex, with intermarriage, assimilation, and different waves of immigration, there are so many stories to tell. This anthology offers a variety of stories that glimpse at the rich tapestry of this experience.”
National Iranian American Council

“The insight provided by most of [the essays in My Shadow is My Skin] would certainly be eye-opening to non-immigrants. Then, of course, there are those whose own experience might be reflected in these writings which doubtless would find some solace in the knowledge that they did not struggle alone. All in all, through noble endeavors such as the compiling of this collection, one can say it is a good time to be an Iranian in exile.”
Peyk Magazine

“[My Shadow Is My Skin] boasts a uniquely heterogenous collection of diasporic writing.”
Iranian Studies

“The essays in this moving and impressive collection capture the many facets of the Iranian diasporic experience with an honesty that feels as if the writers have been treasuring these stories for years and are now giving us the welcome gift of beautiful and surprising release. My Shadow is My Skin captures not just the immense loss and longing that can accompany immigration and cultural displacement but also the unexpected empowerment that hyphenation and living between worlds can build. Bold, expansive, and wise –this collection will break your heart and fill you with immense hope. ”
Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop

“Emotionally raw, honest, often funny and heartbreaking, these are stories that will linger with you long after you’ve read them. My Shadow Is My Skin is a testament to what binds us as Iranian-Americans, but also a poignant reminder that every one of our experiences are distinctly personal.”
Sara Saedi, author of the memoir Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card

“This collection includes writings by first-generation Iranian immigrants to the United States, second-generation immigrants, or diasporic Iranians, several of whom have one American parent, as well as entries by American spouses of Iranian immigrants. It thus allows for a more expansive and inclusive understanding of what it means to be Iranian American or a diasporic Iranian living in the United States. This diversity of voices is one of the strengths of the book; the time for this more generous and capacious understanding of diasporic Iranian identity is long overdue and most certainly welcome.”
Nima Naghibi, author of Women Write Iran: Nostalgia and Human Rights from the Diaspora


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca