An interview with Shiva Rahbaran
An interview with Shiva Rahbaran – Winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Life Writing
Shiva Rahbaran was born in Tehran. She was eight years old when the last Persian monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, left Iran giving way to the foundation of the Islamic Republic. Together with her family she left Iran for Germany in 1984, where she studied literature and political science at the Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf. She continued her studies at Oxford University, where she obtained her doctoral degree (DPhil) in English literature. Having lived in Munich and Zurich for twelve years, she moved to London in 2013 where she is currently living with her family. Her latest project is a novel about the life of an Iranian family during the Islamic Revolution.
Tell us about how you got into writing?
In Iran, where I grew up, story-telling is a central part of our culture. I always liked to listen to stories and to read stories – from myths and fairy tales to life writing and novels. I always felt that stories told me more about reality than news or reports. Whereas news gave me the facts of life, novels provided the truth about life; whereas news informed, novels gave the reader knowledge. I realized quite early on – after having left Iran over thirty years ago – that people in the West (we moved to Germany from Tehran in 1984) were quite fascinated by whatever news came from Iran or the Middle East, but could hardly relate to our experience in/and/out of that region. We had come here with our stories, but nobody knew them, so we felt invisible. And we wanted to be known. What makes people human are their stories.
How has winning the prize changed your approach to writing or your plans?
What are you working on right now?