In this Spotlight On, we shine a light on Nasrin Mahoutchi-Hosaini, whose new collection of short stories Standing in the Cold has just been published with Ginninderra Press. She discusses her book with our Administration and Digital Services Officer, Isaac Wilcox.
Your book of short stories was published this year, Standing in the Cold. Can you tell us a bit about it?
There are 10 stories in this collection. Six of ten stories previously were published in different Australian anthologies, such as Overland, Southerly and Heat. Two of the stories had won prize in short story competitions and the title story, “Standing in the Cold”, was selected for The Best Australian Stories, 2016.
The stories in the book are influenced by both Persian culture and Australian culture and the space in between. Thematically, how did you go about drawing together and organising these stories into one book?
The theme and style of stories are varied, some are close to magic realism, some directly related to Persian folklore and some realistic experience of first-generation migrant life experience in Australia.
The Australian stories are a bit Persian and Persian stories are a bit Australian to expand the creative space. The space in between has been explored linguistically. Writing in English as my second language has helped me to explore those spaces in between which usually remains unseen or not highlighted.
Stories are gathered in the book according to the time they have been published or not published before. First four stories were published between 2016 to 2020. The last 2 stories were published much earlier, between 2005-2007, and four stories in the middle were published in this book for the first time.
How long have you been writing short stories, and is there anything you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
I have been writing short stories in Farsi (Persian) for a long time, but my writing in English language started around 1999-2000 when I did my Master of Creative Writing degree here in Australia at Macquarie university. I wish I could write in English as well as in Farsi much earlier.
Who or what has influenced your writing recently? Do you have any recommended reads?
My recent reading includes those writers who have almost identical experience to my own, that is, being a woman writing in second language, living in between two cultures and languages, being in exile coming to her second country as a refugee. Surprisingly it wasn’t difficult to find. Two names in my list are Merce Rodoreda, and Beatriz Lispector.
Merce Rodoreda was Spanish novelist and short story writer who wrote in Catalan. When Spanish civil war started, in 1939, a few months before the defeat of the Republicans, she fled into exile, she went to France and Switzerland. In her letters she wrote “the war was over, and me had to leave Spain. Me, not for nothing, because I had never been in politics, but the fact of having written in Catalan, and for having collaborated in magazines.” (Wikipedia).
Beatriz Lispector was Ukrainian born Brazilian novelist and short story writer. Once she wrote to her sister “there isn’t really a place one can live. Its all somebody else’s country, where other people are happy.” (Border Crossing Magazine).
“Every aspect of Clarice Lispector was notable. She was remarkable, unusually beautiful, foreign sounding, raspy and by some to be French.” (Border crossing Magazine).
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I am working on my second collection of short stories.
And just for fun… you often write about food, what is your favourite meal?
The answer to this question will be very long because I love lots of food from difference cultures and countries. But the short list will be Thai food is my favourite, I love all their cuisines. When I am in Iran, which has lots of fantastic foods to enjoy but after a few weeks, I miss Thai food, at least what we experience as being Thai food here in Australia. Perhaps food in Thailand is different, I don’t know.
Nasrin Mahoutchi Hosaini is an Iranian-Australian writer. Nasrin writes both in English and Farsi languages. Her short stories and essays have been published in variety of Australian anthologies such as Heat, Southerly and Overland.Her first book, standing in the Cold, is her first collection of short stories and has been published by Ginninderra Press in 2022.
You can see the book at Ginninderra Press.
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