Jasmin Darznik

Novelist & Memoirist
Creative Writing Professor
Travels from: San Francisco, CA

“A powerful novel about a woman who shuns convention to follow her passion.”—Kirkus Reviews

Jasmin Darznik is the New York Times bestselling author of The Bohemians, a novel that imagines the friendship between photographer Dorothea Lange and her Chinese American assistant in 1920s San Francisco. A New York Times Book Review summer 2021 recommendation, The Bohemians is also one of Oprah Daily’s best books of historical fiction for 2021.

Darznik’s debut novel, Song of a Captive Bird, was a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” book and a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Darznik is also the author of The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Her books have been published in seventeen countries and her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, among others.

Darznik was born in Iran and came to America when she was five years old. She holds an MFA in fiction from Bennington College, a J.D. from the University of California, and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University. She is an associate professor and incoming chair of the MFA Program in Writing at California College of the Arts in San Francisco (2022).

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The Bohemians

Ballantine Books |
Novel

A dazzling novel of one of America’s most celebrated photographers, Dorothea Lange, exploring the wild years in San Francisco that awakened her career-defining grit, compassion, and daring.

“Jasmin Darznik expertly delivers an intriguing glimpse into the woman behind those unforgettable photographs of the Great Depression, and their impact on humanity.”—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things

In this novel of the glittering and gritty Jazz Age, a young aspiring photographer named Dorothea Lange arrives in San Francisco in 1918. As a newcomer—and naïve one at that—Dorothea is grateful for the fast friendship of Caroline Lee, a vivacious, straight-talking Chinese American with a complicated past, who introduces Dorothea to Monkey Block, an artists’ colony and the bohemian heart of the city. Dazzled by Caroline and her friends, Dorothea is catapulted into a heady new world of freedom, art, and politics. She also finds herself falling in love with the brilliant but troubled painter Maynard Dixon. As Dorothea sheds her innocence, her purpose is awakened and she grows into the artist whose iconic Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph broke the hearts and opened the eyes of a nation.

A vivid and absorbing portrait of the past, The Bohemians captures a cast of unforgettable characters, including Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, and D. H. Lawrence. But moreover, it shows how the gift of friendship and the possibility of self-invention persist against the ferocious pull of history.

Song of a Captive Bird

Ballantine Books |
Novel

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER • A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who defied society’s expectations to find her voice and her destiny

“A complex and beautiful rendering of [a] vanished country and its scattered people, a reminder of the power and purpose of art, and an ode to female creativity under a patriarchy that repeatedly tries to snuff it out.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh Farrokhzad is told that Persian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. During the summer of 1950, Forugh’s passion for poetry takes flight—and tradition seeks to clip her wings.

Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing only grows stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.

Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—this haunting novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life

Grand Central Publishing |
Memoir

We were a world of two, my mother and I, until I started turning into an American girl. That’s when she began telling me about The Good Daughter. It became a taunt, a warning, an omen.

Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family’s history. When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortly following her father’s death, Jasmin was helping her mother move; a photograph fell from a stack of old letters. The girl pictured was her mother. She was wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stood a man whom Jasmin had never seen before.

At first, Jasmin’s mother, Lili, refused to speak about the photograph, and Jasmin returned to her own home frustrated and confused. But a few months later, she received from her mother the first of ten cassette tapes that would bring to light the wrenching hidden story of her family’s true origins in Iran: Lili’s marriage at thirteen, her troubled history of abuse and neglect, and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life. The final tape revealed that Jasmin’s sister, Sara – The Good Daughter – was still living in Iran.

In this sweeping, poignant, and beautifully written memoir, Jasmin weaves the stories of three generations of Iranian women into a unique tale of one family’s struggle for freedom and understanding. The result is an enchanting and unforgettable story of secrets, betrayal, and the unbreakable mother-daughter bond.

Coming Soon!

Jasmin’s Media Clips

Jasmin’s Recent Work & Essays

Jasmin’s Favorites

Honors, Awards & Recognition

New York Times Best of Summer 2021
Oprah’s Best Historical Fiction of 2021
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Winner of the Writer’s Center First Novel Prize

Media Kit

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