Why I Wrote Children of the Jacaranda Tree
The subject of Children of the Jacaranda Tree did not come to me as easily and automatically as I wish it had. The idea of it took shape over the years, and not until the penultimate chapter did I know what I wanted to do with it.
It all started in October 2006 when my husband and I arrived in Melbourne, Australia, to spend my husband’s sabbatical year there. I had just finished a third novel that deep down I knew was no good, and was anxiously reflecting on why I had never truly been taken with the stories that I wrote. The answer came, slowly and painstakingly, but it finally did come: I had to begin writing my own stories, the stories of my family, the untold stories of the Revolution.
The first short story that I wrote – later on one of the chapters of the novel – was the story of the bracelet of date stones my father made in prison. I submitted this story to Perigee Publications. In December 2006, it was accepted; I had just published my first story. Encouraged, I wrote another short story and another. Gradually I realised that, directly and indirectly, every time I wrote, I kept going back to the same theme, to the same event that not only altered the course of history in Iran but also changed the life of my family for ever.
In the last year of the Iran–Iraq war, around 4,000 to 12,000 political prisoners were executed and buried in mass graves. The exact number has never been known. My uncle was one of those executed. My parents too had been incarcerated, due to their political activism, however, they were lucky to have served their prison sentence and been released just a few years earlier. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an attempt not only to keep alive the memory of my uncle and all those who were murdered in that blood-soaked summer, but also to shed light on this dark moment in Iranian history, on its tales of violence, prison and death, which have remained untold for so long. To give voice not only to the victims of this atrocity but also to the ordeal of their families and their children, who have had to live with their unspoken grief buried inside them year after year, decade after decade.
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