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Goli Taraghi, photo by Farhad Daryoush
Goli Taraghi


NYS Writers Institute, October 24, 2013
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

8:00 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Goli Taraghi, acclaimed Iranian fiction writer, will read from her new story collection, The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons (2013), Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. On the prior evening, Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, the Iranian film, THE PEAR TREE, based on a short story by Taraghi, will be screened. The events are free and open to the public, and are part of the “Women of the Middle East Series” cosponsored by UAlbany’s Office of International Education, New York State Writers Institute, International Academic Program, Global Institute for Health and Human Rights, Women’s Studies, Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, and University Auxiliary Services.

As part of the “Women of the Middle East” series, the UAlbany Office of International Education and the New York State Writers Institute will present two events with Goli Taraghi, acclaimed Iranian fiction writer whose work— though frequently censored, and occasionally banned by Iran’s Ministry of Islamic Orientation—has achieved bestseller status in her native country. Though not well-known to U.S. readers, Taraghi’s work is widely read in Europe, and she has been honored as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France, where she has lived for most of the last several decades. In 2009, she received Stanford University’s Bita Prize for Literature and Freedom for works in the Persian language (Farsi).

Taraghi’s newest work in English translation is The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons: Selected Stories (October 2013), her first book to be published by a major American publishing house (Norton). The Booklist reviewer said, “Clean sentences and unembellished plots provide the framework for rich, layered, and haunting worlds…. The thread through each engaging tale is the quest for dignity, particularly as it relates to comfort and home, and the unavoidable awkwardness of exile.” Kirkus said in a starred review, “An Iranian writer prized internationally and among fellow writers of fiction deserves a wider American readership for this rich, provocative collection of stories.”

The daughter of an Iranian publishing magnate who was also a member of the Iranian Parliament, Taraghi grew up in a Westernized family in Tehran, though she spent much of her childhood in the company of her devoutly Islamic extended family. Educated at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1960s, Taraghi returned to Iran to pursue graduate studies at Tehran University, where she eventually became a professor of philosophy. In the 1970s, she joined her students in protests against the human rights abuses of Shah Reza Pahlevi’s regime, but fled to France after the Islamic Revolution.
Taraghi’s work explores universal themes, particularly the experiences of women in Iran. Her avoidance of narrowly political subjects has made it possible for her work to be widely circulated in Iran. This access comes at a price, however. As she told an interviewer for the Boston Review in 2010:  “As soon as I start to formulate my ideas and select the words, I feel the invisible presence of the man from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance— in charge of censorship— standing over me. He dictates his rules….”

Taraghi’s other works in English include the story collection, A Mansion in the Sky (2003), and the novel Winter Sleep (1973, English 1994).

On the evening prior to Taraghi’s visit—Wednesday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m., in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the UAlbany uptown campus—the Writers Institute will screen THE PEAR TREE (Iran, 1998, 95 minutes, color, in Farsi with English subtitles), a film based on a short story by Taraghi, featuring a screenplay by the author, and directed by major Iranian filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui.

Intent on completing a new novel, an author with writer’s block returns to his family’s vacation house in the Iranian countryside, where he is beset by childhood memories. The film received the Silver Hugo for Best Feature at the Chicago International Film Festival. The UCLA Film and Television Archive said in 1999, “The one constant in [director] Mehrjui's work has been his attention to the discontents of contemporary, primarily urban, Iran. His latest, THE PEAR TREE, has been hailed as the apotheosis of the director’s examination of the Iranian bourgeoisie.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.