Wilkes University


You're Invited to an Afternoon Tea and Book Signing

iran fahmy book signing flyer

A Checkerboard of Nights and Days is the story of Iran Fahmy’s extraordinary cultural journey. A native of Iran, she arrived in the U.S. in 1957 at age 24 to attend graduate school on a Royal Scholarship. Unable to speak or understand English very well, she faced many challenges in adapting to an unfamiliar culture, enduring loneliness and isolation. Yet she went on to earn two graduate degrees, marry an Egyptian scholar she met at Columbia University, raise three children as first-generation Americans, and, through her work, touch the lives of children and families who were challenged by special needs.

Iran’s childhood was a magical one in many ways, as she grew up in a secular region of Iran that was a vibrant mix of ethnic groups, religions, and cultures — a place where food, poetry, music, and an appreciation of nature’s beauty were intertwined pleasures of daily life. Yet that childhood was also marked by darkness and tragedy: the early deaths of her older brother and father, the harshness of life under Soviet occupation after World War II, and the misogyny and intolerance of the country’s fundamentalist Muslim population.

Yearning to escape the patriarchy and religious conservatism of her native land, Iran found a home in the U.S., where she was free to forge a new identity. This wasn’t always an easy journey, as she and her family sometimes encountered prejudice and intolerance as they tried to balance their three cultures: American, Persian and Egyptian. Yet the Fahmy family gradually assimilated into American life and is today a model of multiculturalism; every Thanksgiving they offer Muslim, Baha’i, Jewish, and Christian prayers that honor their diverse backgrounds.

Now 85 and living in Pennsylvania with her husband Mahmoud, Iran enjoys swimming, walking, gardening and writing. She and her family have travelled extensively throughout the U.S. and to dozens of nations, which has only confirmed their view that this country is the freest in the world. Her children, grandchildren, family and friends are proud that she has completed this memoir, a tribute to her persistence, determination, and resilience in transcending the many challenges of her life.