How to pronounce Yasmin Crowther: yas-meen
Yasmin Crowther is the product of an
Anglo-Iranian household (Iranian mother and British father). She says that she
"feels like I am a part of both places and not fully understood by either
place", and that's one reason she wrote The Saffron Kitchen, her first
novel, to try and communicate how difficult it is to bridge both worlds, and yet
how fundamentally essential it feels to be able to make that bridge.
Her mother, like Maryam in The Saffron Kitchen, grew up in Mashhad, and spent her summers in a village which is the basis of the fictional Mazareh. Like Maryam, her mother also came to England in her twenties; but there the similarity between Crowther's protagonist and her mother ends, she assures us The Saffron Kitchen is entirely fictional.
She grew up visiting Iran regularly before the revolution (1979), and visited again to research her book, spending time in Mashhad and also in the village on which Mazareh is based.
She attended Oxford University and is now the director of the London office of SustainAbility (on extended leave to write The Saffron Kitchen), which advises clients on the risks and opportunities associated with corporate responsibility and sustainable development. She lives in Devon.
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A Conversation with Yasmin Crowther
You have worked for many years in the corporate world, and this is your first novela very impressive debut. Would you tell readers a bit about how you came to write it?
Ive always wanted to write since I was a small child and writing has always been part of my professional career, which required me to articulate complex societal issues and to understand conflict and the challenge of engaging and reconciling different perspectives. But my day job wasnt creative writing, which was always my burning desire. As the years went by, I made ever more concerted life choices that would allow me time to write. About three or four years ago I found myself on a short writing course run by Hanif Kureishi and it was like finally being allowed to breathe! The germ of The Saffron Kitchen emerged on that course and I wrote it over the following three or so years.
You dedicate the book, in part, to your grandmothers, Eleanor Powell and Khadijeh Assadi Moghadam. Would you talk about their influence on you? You also thank your mother for her stories of growing up in Mashhad and Assadieh. In what ways is Maryam modeled on your mother and her experiences?
Ive always been acutely aware of ...
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