In our extended New Works Wednesdays series, we explore new fiction and nonfiction works. In this part of the series, Esther Amini discusses her new work "Concealed."
Esther Amini grew up in Queens, New York, during the freewheeling 1960s. She also grew up in a Persian-Jewish household, the American-born daughter of parents who had fled Mashhad, Iran. In Concealed, she tells the story of being caught between these two worlds: the dutiful daughter of tradition-bound parents who hungers for more self-determination than tradition allows.
Exploring the roots of her father's deep silences and explosive temper, her mother's flamboyance and flights from home, and her own sense of indebtedness to her Iranian-born brothers, Amini uncovers the story of her parents' early years in Mashhad, Iran's holiest Muslim city; the little-known history of Mashhad's underground Jews; the incident that steeled her mother's resolve to leave; and her parents' arduous journey to the U.S., where they faced a new threat to their traditions: the threat of freedom. Determined to protect his daughter from corruption, Amini's father prohibits talk, books, education, and pushes an early Persian marriage instead. Can she resist? Should she? Focused intently on what she stands to gain, Amini comes to see what she also stands to lose: a family and community bound by food, celebrations, sibling escapades, and unexpected acts of devotion by parents to whom she feels invisible.
Esther Amini is a writer, painter, and psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. Her short stories have appeared in Elle, Lilith, Tablet, The Jewish Week, Barnard Magazine, Inscape Literary, and Proximity. She was named one of Aspen Words’ two best emerging memoirists and awarded its Emerging Writer Fellowship in 2016 based on her memoir entitled: “Concealed.” Her pieces have been performed by Jewish Women’s Theatre in Los Angeles and in Manhattan, and was chosen by JWT as their Artist-in-Residence in 2019.