The Terror State by Anaheed Saatchi
2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist
Anaheed Saatchi has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for The Terror State.
The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1.
Anaheed Saatchi writes fiction and creative nonfiction, covering themes of sustainable community building, diaspora, the outdoors industry and identity politics as a freelance journalist. They've written for various publications including The Malahat Review, Melanin Base Camp and The Alpinist.
Entry in five-ish words
"Personal essay, immigrant narratives, belonging."
The story's source of inspiration
"When UIA Flight 752 was shot down in January 2020, different parts of me were fighting to be heard through my grief and confusion. At first, the motivation to write was to attempt to process the ways the event itself affected the Iranian community in North Vancouver, where my family has had a small business for almost 30 years. I needed to understand that while the vast majority of grief wasn't mine to claim, it brushed shoulders with people I love and wish to protect. I took time to reflect on being brought up in the Iranian diaspora while serving them as clientele — working in my father's store over the course of many years I learned to speak Farsi more fluently, and I heard many stories of immigration, disillusionment, triumph and tragedy.
"I tried to consider the neighbourhood that helped raise me and the many times I rejected it. I reflected on my feelings of being 'in-between,' 'exotic,' 'amusing' or 'ugly' to white people. I wrote to remember how eager I was to learn from my father and how I still needed to heal the last fluttering of resentment toward his absence from my life outside of the meagre square footage of our store. I wrote it because it was time to sit, once again, with some of the stark truths of being here."
A fluorescent light at the back of the store is flickering. It's almost time to close. Metal trim reinforces the walls at the cost of overall aesthetics. From my vantage point at the top of rickety stairs, I can see the butchering area, bleached white, and the floor tiles before they cut out near the cash registers. I have the massive front windows mapped in my mind's eye from the years I spent glimpsing passersby on their way up or down the avenue.
I suddenly realize that it's been almost 10 years. Flyers are still taped to the wall outside, local Irani newspapers and magazines are stacked on a small grate and the shopping baskets likely need to be collected and placed back near the tills. About this time of year, a small space heater keeps the immediate area of the cash registers tolerable for the now older woman working the counter. Steadily, she'll be wiping down the sliding glass of the cases full of cold cuts, and sanitizing the cutting boards before she leaves for home within the hour.
The winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.