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American-Iranian Digital Book ‘The Persian Square’

ScreenJournalism.480x480-75Americans embrace digital book as an alternative to continuously grave headlines about Iran from their state media.

NPR reports that Iran Davar Ardalan offers a much fuller portrait of Iran, the people and the American-Iranian minority than other multi-media works have done with her digital book The Persian Square. Davar Ardalan is also author of My Name Is Iran: A century of family tales from two beloved but divided homelands, Iran and America. Although her first title suggests The Persian Square may be indulgent, the content – sound bytes, vignettes, images and video – is nonetheless striving to illustrate a desire to knit together such disparate and deeply personal strands of identity and memory for an American readership who perhaps do not acknowledge their own historical strands of Orientalism and enough of the later contributions to their culture from this thriving minority. The stories catalogue 100 years of American Iranian history. More than an e-book this is an interactive book that suggests the choose-your-own adventure style of books we read as children in the late 80s where a choice of endings led you two different last chapters. The book description reads:

Drawing on evVersion1dot2PersianSquare.225x225-75erything from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s odes to his beloved Persian poets to Pierre Omidyar’s founding of eBay, The Persian Square culls together stunning images and sharp storytelling, weaving a modern, multimedia tapestry of Iranian American history over the centuries.

Until fairly recently, Iranian Americans have been one of the country’s quietest minorities. Their presence has animated great cities like Los Angeles and their traditions – from the transcendent poetry of Rumi, to aromatic kabobs to the Persian New Year celebration of the vernal equinox – have seeped into mainstream American experience.

We’re not sure about quietest, and there seems to be a fair section of the comments railing against this claim, however it is useful to remember that the majority of American middle class are in a league of their own as regards cultural awareness. The title Persian Square is named after an area in Los Angeles, where many Iranian businesses thrive on the patronage of approximately 700,000 to 800,000 people of Iranian descent residing in Los Angeles. For this reason Los Angeles earned the nickname “Tehrangeles.” Hear the NPR report and interview HERE

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