Jewish Journal

Iranian Jewish author Nahai to give new insights about the community

by Karmel Melamed

February 26, 2008 | 10:38 pm

As a journalist and writer, I have a special respect and admiration for individuals that are in my same shoes—especially those who share the stories of the unique Iranian Jewish community with the rest of the free world. Gina Nahai , an Iranian Jewish author based here in Los Angeles is one of those rare writers that I place in this special category. Kudos to her for being able to reveal the intricate mentalities and norms of Iranian Jews that not very many people know about in her works of fiction. The Iranian Jewish community is very tight-knit and typically closed off to outsiders for whatever reason, so having an insider like Nahai share details about us can be quite educational.

Not many in the local Iranian Jewish community like Nahai have the courage to express their ideas, reveal special facts, expose certain taboo topics, or behavior going on in the Iranian Jewish community. Don’t ask me why, but a number of Iranian Jewish adults over the age of 40 are often frightened that if they publicly speak up and share their feelings, they will be ostracized for doing so by their friends and relatives in the community. I personally do not understand it but have heard it is a cultural state of mind prevalent among many different Iranian groups who were not raised in an environment where freedom of speech was cherished.

Nahai’s books have received wide acclaim by critics and her first novel Cry of the Peacock even won the Los Angeles Arts Council Award for Fiction. Her works have been translated into more than dozen other languages and are used for teaching in universities worldwide. She is also a regular contributor to the Jewish Journal of Greater L.A. as well.

Those interested in meeting Nahai first hand can do so on Sunday March 9th at 2 pm at the Autry National Center here in L.A. She will be sharing some interesting new insights about Iranian Jews living in the U.S. as well as signing copies of her latest book “Caspian Rain”.

For more information on the event contact: egreenberg@autrynationalcenter.org

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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