In her debut collection, Divided Loyalties, acclaimed poet Nilofar Shidmehr depicts the lives of Iranian women in post-revolutionary Iran and the contemporary diaspora in Canada — the expectations imposed on them as mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives, and the struggle to shed their socially conditioned identities.
The collection ranges from Tehran in 1978, when some affluent girls play a simple Cinderella game with unexpected consequences, foreshadowing the Iranian Revolution and its violent aftermath; to 1980s Iran, as women help their husbands and brothers survive war and political upheaval throughout the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution; to the 1990s in Vancouver, where an alcoholic single-mother refugee is harassed by the men she meets through a telephone dating platform; to the present day, following Iranian-Canadians who travel back to Iran on their own personal journeys.
Shidmehr’s style is at once straightforward and nuanced and the depth of her insight into familial and romantic relationships is undeniable. She has a striking clarity of vision and the poise of a poet who has been compared to Dionne Brand and Pablo Neruda. Divided Loyalties presents dynamic stories of Iranian and Iranian-Canadian lives in all their dignity, intimacy, and enduring complexity.