Drawing on everything from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s odes to his beloved Persian poets to Pierre Omidyar’s founding of eBay, The Persian Square culls together stunning images and sharp storytelling, weaving a modern, multimedia tapestry of Iranian American history over the centuries.
Until fairly recently, Iranian Americans have been one of the country’s quietest minorities. Their presence has animated great cities like Los Angeles and their traditions – from the transcendent poetry of Rumi, to aromatic kabobs to the Persian New Year celebration of the vernal equinox – have seeped into mainstream American experience.
But even a decade ago, Iranian Americans’ civic voice was a whisper, and their coming of age story as immigrants to America a tale told in living rooms rather than documentaries and coffee table books. All that is gradually changing today, with multiple generations of Iranian Americans becoming highly visible players at the forefront of virtually every field in America. The Persian Square offers a vivid portrait of Iranian Americans at this moment, exploring the early intersections between the two countries’ citizens, and the unexpected places where American and Iranian tradition have embraced one another.
NPR Senior Producer, Iran Davar Ardalan’s storytelling draws on her family origins, interweaving her grandparents’ first meeting in New York and her parents’ migrations in an intimate but historically grounded telling of how America and Iran came together both in her life, and in the world. The result is a deeply personal portrait of her community, whose confidence and accomplishments grows by the day.
The Editor-at-Large of The Persian Square is journalist and author Azadeh Moaveni. This book includes historic documents, handwritten letters, archival photos from Iran and over 30 media files including, music, videos and several audio recordings from 1912, 1915, and 1924 used with permission from Sony Music. The book contained links to NPR stories from 1995-2012 with permission from NPR.
Ardalan also encourages the public to share their own personal Iranian American portraits for possible inclusion in upcoming volumes using
story@thepersiansquare and #PersianSquare.
The digital book will be available exclusively on the iBookstore on Monday, March 4th.
“Davar Ardalan produced our NPR series, “Iran At The Crossroads,” in 1995 — eight stories of Iranians and culture, ranging from young people to women to poets and artists and teachers, including Azar Nafisi who was then teaching literature in Iran. I knew then that I had made a rare journey. Here, Iran Davar gives you some of the same sense of exploration and history and cultural exchange — the ‘goftegu’ or dialogue between civilizations, that I experienced. ‘The Persian Square’ is a valuable series for the scholar and the casual wanderer, embracing what Iran has meant to the West, and what our traditions have meant to some of its most notable people. Simply put, this book is a treat. Many people will never go to Iran. Explore here.”
– Jacki Lyden, Host and Correspondent, NPR
“Iranian Americans, so long stuck in the shadows of America’s immigrant story, emerge in The Persian Square in vibrant color. Ardalan weaves together a sharp and modern multitouch tapestry of Iranian American achievement and contribution to American life.”
– Dr. Firouz Naderi, Director of Solar System Exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
“Persian Square is a wonderful collection of facts — and I’m an expert on facts. But this book isn’t only for Persian-Americans; we live in a world that requires understanding and tolerance, and Iran Davar Ardalan has given us a beautiful way to learn about a culture that is a mystery to many Americans. These stories of art, science, history, and journalism can introduce us to Iranian life, and the many links to multimedia resources make it easy to expand our knowledge.”
– Kee Malesky, NPR Librarian and author of All Facts Considered and Learn Something New Every Day
“Part family narrative, part encyclopedia, part travelogue, always fascinating, The Persian Square is a wonderful guide to anyone wanting to get beneath the surface of the relationship between the US and Iran.”
– Mike Shuster, roving foreign correspondent who traveled numerous times to Iran for NPR