W&L's Jasmin Darznik in Sunday's New York Times
It’s been a banner month for Jasmin Darznik, assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee.
Just after her memoir, “The Good Daughter,” was nominated for two prestigious awards, Jasmin published a piece, “No Place Is Home,” in Sunday’s New York Times. She writes about her two-year exile from the United States after a run-in with the American Consulate when she was 13.
“It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for years, but I haven’t found the words or the way until now,” Jasmin said of the essay.
Jasmin and her family left Iran when she was five and settled in California. She and her mother had visited Iranian relatives in Germany one summer when Jasmin, filling out the renewal form for her mother’s business visa, put “America” on the line asking for their home. Because the officials viewed that as a statement of intent to stay in the U.S. permanently, they were denied the visa and were forced to remain in Germany until her father could hire an attorney for a successful appeal.
Jasmin describes her dilemma in this passage from the essay:
By that time, I had spent several years distancing myself from the country then known as “Eyeran.” I had seen enough footage of the hostage crisis. I had been called a “smelly A-rab” at school, watched my mother get stared down in grocery shops on account of her accent and witnessed the sharp looks my veiled grandmother drew in the streets. I had quickly learned not to be Iranian in ways that showed. I plucked my eyebrows, bleached my hair with Sun-In and hitched up my skirts. My accent was pure Valley girl, heavy on the “likes.” By summer’s end, I was desperate to get back to California. A visa was the only thing standing between me and the only country I cared to claim.
As a 2011-2012 fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in Charlottesville, Jasmin has been working on a novel set in 1960s Iran, titled “LUSTRE: A Nonfiction Novel of Iran.”