Oppression prompted writer to leave Iran
The Iranian government didn't explicitly kick author Moniro Ravanipour out of her homeland, but she felt so miserable and oppressed under the fundamentalist sharia law that she felt compelled to leave.
“They didn't directly tell us to go into exile,” says Ravanipour, 60, who is coming to Pittsburgh on March 6 and 7 for a presentation. “They push us in such a way to put a lot of pressure on our shoulders in such a way that we couldn't tolerate it anymore.”
Ravanipour — author of books including “Ahl-e Ghargh” (The Drowned), “Del-e Fulad” (Heart of Steel), and “Kowli Kenar-e Atash” (Gypsy by Fire) — moved with her husband, Babak, and son Reza, now 17, to the United States in December 2006, when she began an International Writers Project fellowship at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
She lives in Las Vegas, where she was a resident writer at City of Asylum — a sanctuary for writers in exile and under threat in their home countries. Ravanipour will be a visiting writer-in-residence next week at the Ellis School, a private school for girls age 3 through grade 12 in Shadyside, and at City of Asylum Pittsburgh. She will give a public presentation at Ellis on March 6, and at the North Side-based City of Asylum on March 7.
With its repressive, fundamentalist Islamic law, Iran is not a good place for a creative writer — especially a female one, Ravanipour says. In her country, unmarried women suspected of sexual activity can be stoned, and although women can have only one husband, men can have several wives. Girls are held criminally responsible for their actions at age 9; whereas, boys aren't until they are 15. Speaking out against the totalitarian government, which tried to censor and ban her books, is forbidden.
“You have your own language if you can resist a totalitarian regime,” Ravanipour says. “When you can write, it means that you have your own language, and they don't want you to have your special language.”
Her short-story collections — “Satan's Stones” and “Kanizu” — are available in an English translation.
Now that she is living in America — which she calls “a beautiful country, a great country” — and plans to apply for citizenship next year, Ravanipour says she is “another woman.” She can write about previously forbidden topics like sex and love.
“When I came here, I was in the land of opportunity and freedom of speech,” she says. “That was the biggest challenge of my life. I still struggle with it.
“I came from another planet,” Ravanipour says. And now, “I don't have to explain myself to anybody.”
Moniro Ravanipour will talk about her life and writings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 6 at the Ellis School Auditorium, 6425 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. She will do a public reception and reading at 7 p.m. March 7 at City of Asylum, 330 Sampsonia Way, North Side. Both events are free. Details: www.theellisschool.org or www.cityofasylumpittsburgh.org
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Indiana native O’Dell’s latest book takes a stylistic turn
- Little’s ‘Dear Daughter’ is engrossing novel
- Murakami’s new novel journeys to the past