Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Askold Melnyczuk

Second Advisor

Daphne Kalotay

Third Advisor

John Fulton


This collection contains a prologue and seven short stories about the life of two siblings born and raised in the border city of Urmia, Iran.

The main protagonist, Talkhun, is a girl who was born two years before the Islamic revolution in Iran. Her childhood is spent at the time of the longest war of twentieth century, the war between Iran and Iraq (1980 to 1988). The first story, "The Last Unicorn and the War" is a story of her childhood.

When the war ends, Talkhun is a teenager. Iran's post-revolutionary dictatorship is in its early steps after the Islamic revolution in 1979. "Lipstick," the second story, takes place at this time.

When Talkhun goes to college in Tehran, her teenage brother, Yashar, becomes strictly religious under the influence of his teacher for "Islamic Vision" course. He has doubts about faith, religion, sexual desires and morality in general. The story, "Eclipse," is about Yashar and his doubts.

In Tehran, Talkhun experiences love for the first time. It's the time when Mohammad Khatami, the first moderate president after the Islamic revolution comes to power. "Bitter Blood" is a love story in the heart of the changes that the country goes through in that time.

In 2005, when Ahmadi-Nejad becomes the president, Talkhun decides to leave the country for a better life. "There Are No Jellyfish in El Paso" is the story of her first years in the United States and how she copes with her new life in the new world.

In 2009, the reformist, Mir Hossein Mousavi, whose Green Movement campaign brings lots of hope for the youth in Iran, runs for presidency. Ahmadi-Nejad wins the election again. But Iranians believe the result of the election is a fraud. The sixth story of the collection, "1388," is the story of Talkhun and Yashar at the same time of the same day, one happening in the U.S. and the other in Tehran.

The last story, "The Black Sweater," is about a father-son relationship. Talkhun is in the U.S. and Yashar has to take care of his parents alone.


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