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Nilofar Shidmehr's Divided Loyalties is a short fiction collection about migration, feminism and sacrifice

The Iran-born, Vancouver-based author discusses why she wrote Divided Loyalties.
Divided Loyalties is a short story collection by Nilofar Shidmehr. (House of Anansi Press)
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Born in Tehran, author, poet and scholar Nilofar Shidmehr now calls Canada home. The Vancouver-based writer's book Divided Loyalties is a collection of short fiction that reflects on the Iranian diaspora and feminism.

Shidmehr spoke to Shelagh Rogers about writing Divided Loyalties.

Family and loyalty

"Iranians take their responsibilities to their families very seriously. The main cultural expectation is to remain loyal to the family, which is the basis of social structure in Iran. There are expectations between family: to be a good mother, a good sister, a good daughter and help male members love family to do their jobs. Loyalty means investment into something without expecting a return. Basically it means sacrificing without expecting that the community or whoever is out there gives you something in return."

The nature of sacrifice

"There is the sense of sacrifice because demands are high on women, especially on mothers, who are seen as the main pillar of the family. There are so many pressures put on women. Things have changed a lot in Iran, thanks to feminists and women's rights activists who bring knowledge and consciousness to that society and have introduced new terms and concepts. In my time, they didn't have any women's shelters in Tehran or in any city in Iran. But now that there are shelters and institutions which help women who are oppressed or in need."

Nilofar Shidmehr's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

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