Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Award-Winning Memoirist
Acclaimed Story Writer & Essayist

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • A Typical American Childhood: Growing up Iranian, Jewish and Socialist
  • Truth and Lies: Can Memoir and Fiction Overlap?
  • How to Not Bore Your Reader: Writing about Politics in Memoir and Fiction
  • From the Stage to the Page: Writer as Director
  • An Evening with Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Biography

“With insightful humor and a keen eye for offbeat details, Sayrafiezadeh, entertaining and political without being heavy-handed, is a force to be reckoned with.” Jonathan Fullmer

“Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is a slyly subversive absurdist whose true subject is the deeply serious matter of our obligations to one another as human beings.” —John Burnham Schwartz

“Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is a masterful storyteller, working from deep in the American grain.” —Philip Gourevitch

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh was born in Brooklyn and raised in Pittsburgh. Most recently, he is the author of the short story collection American Estrangement (W.W. Norton, 2021). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed memoir When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir (2010), which won a Whiting Award and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by Dwight Garner of The New York Times; and the short story collection, Brief Encounters With the Enemy (2014), which was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize and named one of the best book of the year by BookPage. Sayrafiezadeh’s short stories and personal essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s, The New York Times, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and numerous anthologies.

Steve Almond, reviewing Brief Encounters With the Enemy in the New York Times Book Review wroteIn his beguiling 2009 memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh recounted being raised by devout members of the Socialist Workers Party. His Jewish mother did the actual raising; his Iranian-born father abandoned the family for the cause. Both believed a workers’ revolution was imminent. It was a childhood, Sayrafiezadeh observed, devoted to “a peculiar set of rules” that were both ethically impeccable and entirely at odds with the dominant culture . . . Brief Encounters With the Enemy, is a stark and unsettling vision of that dominant culture. The young men who narrate these eight stories evince little in the way of ideals, let alone idealism. They are wage slaves fueled by can-do aphorisms and ambitions—for a raise, for respect, for sex—as routine as their work schedules….In his memoir, Sayrafiezadeh told the remarkable tale of a childhood steeped in doomed dogma. His stories…offer something more: a searing vision of his wayward homeland, delivered not in the clamoring rhetoric of a revolutionary, but in the droll monologues of young men who kill because they lack the moral imagination to do otherwise.”

Sayrafiezadeh is the recipient of a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a 2012 fiction fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Playwriting fellowships include New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Theatre Workshop and Sundance Theatre Lab. His play, “All Fall Away,” was produced in London at Theatre 503.

He lives in New York City and teaches creative writing at Hunter College and New York University, where he received a 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award.

Short Bio

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is the author of Brief Encounters with the Enemy, which was shortlisted for the 2014 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize; the critically acclaimed memoir When Skateboards Will Be Free. Most recently, he is the author of the short story collection American Estrangement. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s, The New York Times and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications. He is the recipient of a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a 2012 fiction fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Playwriting fellowships include New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Theatre Workshop and Sundance Theatre Lab. His play, “All Fall Away,” was produced in London at Theatre 503. He lives in New York City and teaches creative writing at Hunter College and New York University, where he received a 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award.

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