Women on Air – Plains FM set a high standard for author visits with their first for 2008; Anita Amirriezvani, who read from and discussed her book Blood of flowers. Born in Teheran but raised in California, Amirriezvani has travelled between these two countries which have been locked in the most diffficult of relationships for the last 30 years.
As things went from the bad of the American hostages in 1979 to the worse of the ‘axis of evil’ she began to think of writing a book that went beyond the headlines.
It took her nine years to write The blood of flowers and she did extensive research, travelling back to Iran 3 times to look at houses, tiles, and carpets both in books and in reality.
Set in 17th Century Iran and narrated by a nameless heroine who has the typical dreams and desires of a 14-year-old-girl, this is a lyrical and poetic novel blending the traditional fairy tale with a modern narrative.
Amirriezvani was determined to avoid the the stereotypes that began in the 16th century and were informed by the travel memoirs of men who had never met any Muslim women. As Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a woman who could and did meet other women, said in her own memoir, Embassy to Constantinople, what the men said was often “far from the truth”.
I always love it when someone in the audience asks the the author what they read themselves, and I particularly loved Amirriezvani’s answer – 19th century novels, including (my special favourite) George Eliot. She also mentioned Moby Dick, which she did admit you have to perservere with and which is also a favourite of recent Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis.