Distributed June 2, 2003
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis

Novelist Shahrnush Parsipur named first International Writing Fellow

The Program in Creative Writing and the Watson Institute for International Studies have named Shahrnush Parsipur, an Iranian novelist, as the recipient of the inaugural International Writers Project Fellowship.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Program in Creative Writing and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University have announced the selection of the Iranian novelist Shahrnush Parsipur as the recipient of the first International Writers Project Fellowship for academic year 2003-04.

The International Writers Project Fellowship, funded by a grant from the William H. Donner Foundation, is designed to provide support for established creative writers – fiction writers, playwrights and poets – who find it difficult to practice free expression in their home countries. The fellowship will be accompanied by a series of lectures, readings and other events that will highlight the national artistic and political culture of the writer and address the global issues of human rights and free expression. The new program will be launched at Brown in mid-September 2003 with a special international freedom-of-expression symposium and literary festival.

Parsipur, who received a B.A. in sociology from Tehran University in 1973, published her first novel, The Dog and the Long Winter, in 1974. While working as a producer for Iranian National Television and Radio, she resigned from her position in protest of the execution of two poets by the Shah’s regime. Shortly thereafter, she was arrested by the Shah's intelligence agency, SAVAK, and imprisoned. A year after her release, she traveled to France, where she completed her second book, The Simple and Small Adventures of the Spirit of the Tree (1977), an erotic novel that continues the story of a character in The Dog and the Long Winter.

Following the 1979 revolution, Parsipur returned to Iran. She was soon arrested by the Islamic Republic and, although never officially charged with a crime, remained in prison for four years and seven months – an experience she has written about in her Prison Memoirs. While in prison, Parsipur wrote the first part of Touba and the Meaning of Night. Published in Iran in 1989, the novel became a national bestseller. She later endured further arrests and detainments for discussing virginity on three occasions in her book Women Without Men, published in Iran in 1989. The first English-language edition of this book will be published in 2004 by the Feminist Press, which is also reprinting the English translation of her Women Without Men, originally published in this country in 1998 by Syracuse University Press.

Parsipur fled Iran and now lives in the United States as a political refugee. She has published eight books of fiction, as well as her Prison Memoirs. All of her works are currently banned in Iran.