Eager to get your hands on the win­ter issue of Jew­ish Book World (due out in Novem­ber)? Well, here’s a bite to hold you over. JBW’s Nicole Azu­lay took some time to inter­view Angel­la M. Nazar­i­an, author of the beau­ti­ful mem­oir Life as A Vis­i­tor, for the upcom­ing issue.

At a young age, Angel­la M. Nazar­i­an was uproot­ed from her home in Iran and brought to her cur­rent neigh­bor­hood Bev­er­ly Hills. Nev­er quite feel­ing at home, Nazar­i­an inter­twines her emi­gra­tion from Iran, immi­gra­tion to Amer­i­ca, and var­i­ous trav­els in her mem­oir Life as a Vis­i­tor.

JBW: Most Ira­ni­ans I know kind of shut out their past and dif­fi­cult upbring­ings, what inspired you to write your per­son­al sto­ry? Was it a painful process?

AN: Not talk­ing about neg­a­tive cir­cum­stances is part of Iran­ian cul­ture. How­ev­er, two things led me to be more open: One was the fact that I have a psy­chol­o­gy back­ground so talk­ing about things is in my nature. Also, I believe that every­thing mean­ing­ful needs to be heart­felt and full of pas­sion; hence, this sto­ry is some­thing I am extreme­ly pas­sion­ate about. My main moti­va­tion for writ­ing this book was my chil­dren. I think it is impor­tant for them to learn what their par­ents and rel­a­tives have gone through. Writ­ing the book was extreme­ly hard. I some­times would lit­er­al­ly break down and cry as I was writ­ing. Although it was dif­fi­cult, writ­ing Life As a Vis­i­tor was a grow­ing expe­ri­ence for me. Writ­ers often explore feel­ings they don’t know they had in the process of writing.

JBW: In the begin­ning of the book you men­tioned that while you were liv­ing in Iran you, along with all the oth­er chil­dren, would wait for a man who would walk through the neigh­bor­hood with a giant tin box.” For a coin, you could peer in the two holes he cut in the box to see slides of for­eign coun­tries. Was this what made you inter­est­ed in travel?

AN: Yes. How­ev­er, I was also great­ly influ­enced by my par­ents’ trav­els as well as what I would see on television.

JBW: I noticed that you fre­quent­ly referred to your pater­nal grand­moth­er. She seems to have made a pos­i­tive impact on your life. Can you elab­o­rate fur­ther on why she was your role mod­el?

AN: Although I have nev­er met my grand­moth­er, I feel a strong con­nec­tion to her. She was the direct oppo­site of a typ­i­cal Iran­ian woman. Despite liv­ing in an envi­ron­ment where many Jews were ashamed of being Jew­ish, my grand­moth­er embraced her her­itage. She wasn’t afraid of being seen. She wore West­ern clothes when woman of her gen­er­a­tion were cov­ered up. She was assertive and didn’t mind not blend­ing in.