Cyrus Kadivar is the author of Farewell Shiraz: An Iranian Memoir of Revolution and Exile, released in hardback in 2017, now out in paperback (AUC Press, 2019).
Born in Minnesota to Iranian-French parents, Cyrus Kadivar grew up during the Shah’s reign in the Persian city of Shiraz. At sixteen, he and his family were uprooted by the 1979 revolution. Today, Kadivar has worked as a banker, freelance journalist, and political risk consultant and lives in London.
“I have many wonderful memories of Shiraz. As a boy, I cherished hearing my grandparents, parents and older family members telling me anecdotes and tales of the past. Who would have thought that after the unexpected events that changed our lives so dramatically, I would become the sole repository of those stories, the only person to try to pass them on to a younger generation of Iranians, like my cousin born in 1979 who frequently asks me what it was like living under the Shah.
Once at a party she introduced me to her friends in London as a person who had lived a fairy-tale existence before his family had to leave their big house and everything behind. Non-Iranians curious about my origins inevitably seek to delve into my former experiences with questions that require a long answer. How does one summarize an entire life and the history of a country in a few words? The answer is that you can’t, except to write, write, and write. Thus my book—a memoir and like all memoirs a deeply personal undertaking.
The world, of course, is filled with exiles and refugees, and I am not the only person pining for a Paradise Lost. However, every individual has a right to tell their story and record it as part of the human experience… in the end, it is all about memory. There are those moments, when I dream of an enchanting city cradled in the arms of the high mountains that surround it, a place filled with fun-seeking people and wine-loving poets, lovely gardens where cypresses stand tall, straight, and dense against a blue, cloudless sky; where the roses, splendid, and fragrant, are serenaded by the nightingales.
Farewell Shiraz is essentially a story divided into three distinct yet interweaving parts. The first part called Of Things Past draws heavily on my family history and picturesque recollections of growing up and my coming of age in pre-revolutionary Iran during the reign of two Pahlavi monarchs: Reza Shah and his son Mohammad Reza Shah and the early months of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s rise to power in the wake of his triumphant victory following the overthrow of the imperial order.
The second part, Exile, deals with my displacement and the years of living in the West during which I pursued my obsession with trying to understand why I lost my country. Finally, in the third part entitled Witnesses and Survivors, readers will be introduced to a select group of men and women who were part of the last Shah’s inner circle or key spectators of the unfolding drama and subsequent catastrophe that was the Iranian Revolution.”