Sacramento Public Library

Authors Uncovered

Get the inside scoop on our upcoming authors
Authors Uncovered is an interview series where we invite visiting authors to answer some of your questions, giving you a unique opportunity to learn more about your favorite writers.

Donia Bijan

Donia Bijan portrait  Book cover of The Last Days of Cafe Lelia

The last days of Café Leila​

1. How did you get your first book published?
"In 2008, after a long career as a chef, I wrote a memoir, really a love letter to my mother. Writing was a salve to the pain of losing her. I took my manuscript to Kinko’s, made some copies and mailed it in manila envelopes to two agents. They wrote back within a week and knowing this could potentially be a long relationship, I flew to New York to meet them in person. I chose the one who came to our meeting with a gift of books and a flame of enthusiasm that continued to burn brightly."

2. What authors inspired and/or influenced your work?

"There are books you read as a teenager and books you read in your twenties that speak to you, that stick to your soul and maybe even make you feel understood at a time in your life when you think no one understands you. If a book allows me to identify with a character’s pain, it’s conceivable that the author identifies with mine and that is a very nourishing thought. For me, these were the authors who influenced my soul—from the Bronte sisters to Ralph Ellison, Philip Roth, Nabokov, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, Alice Munro, and Marilynne Robinson. They remain my constant companions."

3. Who are you currently reading?

"I’m reading Michael Chabon’s Moonglow and Map: collected and last poems by Wislawa Szymborska. I have to read a poem before I fall asleep."

4. Without knowing who they are, what would you ask the next author coming to Sacramento Public Library?

"How does your writing affect your personal relationships?"

5. Question from recent visiting author, Jessamyn Stanley (Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get on the Mat. Love Your Body.):
“What’s your favorite opening sentence and why?"

"My favorite opening sentence is from Home by Marilynne Robinson:
“Home to stay, Glory! Yes!” her father said, and her heart sank."
Donia Bijan will be visiting the Carmichael Library to talk about her debut book, The last days of Café Leila, which was inspired by her return to Tehran after decades of exile following the Islamic Revolution. Bijan’s novel puts a personal face to the country’s politics, past and present.

Previous Authors Uncovered

Donia Bijan
Jessamyn Stanley
Firoozeh Dumas
Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

Upcoming authors

  • Kim Culbertson

Submit a question for an upcoming Authors Uncovered interview.

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