A Writer of Many Worlds
Goli Taraghi is a writer of myriad talents. Whether contemplating the place of “the mythical mother of life” in human consciousness, or writing about the larger than life figure of her father—a real estate and publishing magnate, an Iranian Citizen Kane, in her words— whether describing the sad and satirical absurdities of her life in Islamic Iran or in secular Europe, she brings to her subject a sobering and searing honesty, and an acute awareness of the ironies of the human condition.
In her work, the comic and the melancholic are inseparable. Human frailty is matched by the humanism evident in many of her characters’ dispositions. In all she writes, facts of life and fictions of the mind, myths of the past and mundane realities of today cohere to create narratives that are, in the best traditions of Persian literature, at once simple and sophisticated, easy to enjoy and difficult to emulate.
Rare are Iranian writers who have experienced and articulated the drudgeries of Diaspora no less than the suffocating warmth of home. With acute awareness and aesthetic sophistication, she approaches her subjects with the impartial, incisive and brutal honesty of an outsider, and the erudition, creativity and compassion of an insider.
All writing, critics say, are autobiographical. But in Taraghi’s work, the lines between fact and fiction, real and imagined are imperceptible. Many of her essays and stories are a hybrid that fits the genre called “faction,” a fictively creative rendition of factual realities. At the same time, in all her work, the prism is invariably one of a modern woman, at one unmistakably global and Persian—global in her aesthetic sensibilities and cosmopolitanism, and Persian in her erudition and “local” knowledge. Her feminine perspective, even her feminism, is not rooted in ideological or theoretical abstractions but in the contours of her relentlessly fascinating life—from the emotional and financial opulence and political authoritarianism of “home” to the privations and loneliness of exile.
It is in recognition of these accomplishments that Stanford University’s Daryabari Endowment in Persian Letters is proud to present her the Second Bita Prize in Persian Letters and Freedom.
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