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Award-Winning Memoirist & Fiction Writer
Short Stories & Essays
Travels from: New York, NY

“Sayrafiezadeh is a master…His prose has a rhythm that is startlingly original and an intense quirkiness that catches you unaware.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh was born in Brooklyn and raised in Pittsburgh. Most recently, he is the author of the short story collection American Estrangement (W.W. Norton, 2021), a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir (Dial Press, 2009), which won a Whiting Award and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by Dwight Garner of The New York Times; and the short story collection, Brief Encounters With the Enemy (Dial Press, 2013), which was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize and named one of the best book of the year by BookPage. Sayrafiezadeh’s short stories and personal essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The Best American Short Stories, Granta, McSeeney’s, The New York Times, and numerous anthologies.

Sayrafiezadeh is the recipient of a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a 2012 fiction fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Playwriting fellowships include New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Theatre Workshop and Sundance Theatre Lab. His play, “Autobiography of a Terrorist,” was produced by Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco.

He lives in New York City and teaches creative writing at Hunter College and New York University, where he received a 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award.

Saïd's Featured Titles

American Estrangement

W.W. Norton & Company |
Short Story Collection

“Stories that render America just strange enough to recognize.” (The New York Times).

Said Sayrafiezadeh has been hailed by Philip Gourevitch as “a masterful storyteller working from deep in the American grain.” His new collection of stories—some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Best American Short Stories—is set in a contemporary America full of the kind of emotionally bruised characters familiar to readers of Denis Johnson and George Saunders. These are people contending with internal struggles—a son’s fractured relationship with his father, the death of a mother, the loss of a job, drug addiction—even as they are battered by larger, often invisible, economic, political, and racial forces of American society.

Searing, intimate, often slyly funny, and always marked by a deep imaginative sympathy, American Estrangement is a testament to our addled times. It will cement Sayrafiezadeh’s reputation as one of the essential twenty-first-century American writers.


Finalist for the 2022 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction
Longlisted for the 2022 Story Prize
A New York Times Editors’ Choice pick
One of Literary Hub‘s Most Anticipated Books of 2021

Brief Encounters with the Enemy

The Dial Press |
Short Story Collection

When The New Yorker published a short story by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh in 2010, it marked the emergence of a startling new voice in fiction. In this astonishing book, Sayrafiezadeh conjures up a nameless American city and its unmoored denizens: a call-center employee jealous of the attention lavished on a co-worker newly returned from a foreign war; a history teacher dealing with a classroom of maliciously indifferent students; a grocery store janitor caught up in a romantic relationship with a kleptomaniac customer. These men’s struggles and fleeting triumphs—with women, with cruel bosses, with the morning commute—are transformed into storytelling that is both universally resonant and wonderfully strange. Sometimes the effect is hilarious, as when a would-be suitor tries to take his sheltered, religious date on a tunnel of love carnival ride. Other times it’s devastating, as in the unforgettable story that gives the book its title: A soldier on his last routine patrol on a deserted mountain path finally encounters “the enemy” he’s long sought a glimpse of.

Upon giving the author the Whiting Writers’ Award for his memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, the judges hailed his writing as “intelligent, funny, utterly unsmug and unpreening.”  These fiercely original stories show their author employing his considerable gifts to offer a lens on our collective dreams and anxieties, casting them in a revelatory new light.


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize Shortlist
Amazon, Top 10 Books of 2013: Short Stories
Book Page, Best Books of 2013
Bookish, Best Story Collections of 2013

When Skateboards Will Be Free

Dial Press Trade Paperback, |

“The revolution is not only inevitable, it is imminent. It is not only imminent, it is quite imminent. And when the time comes, my father will lead it.”

With a profound gift for capturing the absurd in life, and a deadpan wisdom that comes from surviving a surreal childhood in the Socialist Workers Party, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has crafted an unsentimental, funny, heartbreaking memoir.

Saïd’s Iranian-born father and American Jewish mother had one thing in common: their unshakable conviction that the workers’ revolution was coming. Separated since their son was nine months old, they each pursued a dream of the perfect socialist society. Pinballing with his mother between makeshift Pittsburgh apartments, falling asleep at party meetings, longing for the luxuries he’s taught to despise, Said waits for the revolution that never, ever arrives. “Soon,” his mother assures him, while his long-absent father quixotically runs as a socialist candidate for president in an Iran about to fall under the ayatollahs. Then comes the hostage crisis. The uproar that follows is the first time Saïd hears the word “Iran” in school. There he is suddenly forced to confront the combustible stew of his identity: as an American, an Iranian, a Jew, a socialist… and a middle-school kid who loves football and video games.

Poised perfectly between tragedy and farce, here is a story by a brilliant young writer struggling to break away from the powerful mythologies of his upbringing and create a life—and a voice—of his own. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s memoir is unforgettable.


Whiting Writers’ Award
Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, LONGLIST
BBC Book of the Week
Barnes & Noble, Discover Great New Writers
Amazon Significant Seven


A Typical American Childhood: Growing up Iranian, Jewish and Socialist

In this multi-media presentation, Saïd discusses his upbringing in the Socialist Workers Party, his experiences as a ten-year-old during the Iranian hostage crisis, and how he put it all together in his memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free.


The Real is Imagined and the Imagined is Real: How Memoir and Fiction Can Overlap

In this multi-media craft presentation, Saïd will discuss how narrative storytelling in fiction can be used to great effect when writing nonfiction, and why it should not be considered lying.


How to Not Bore Your Reader: Writing about Politics in Memoir and Fiction

Saïd discusses various techniques and strategies that he has in putting complicated political ideas and events onto the page so that they will be accessible—and entertaining—to readers.


From the Stage to the Page: Writer as Director

Before Saïd was a short story writer, memoirist and playwright, he was an actor. In this multi-media presentation, Saïd will discuss what he learned from the world of theatre in order to write his stories.

CITY LIGHTS LIVE! Saïd Sayrafiezadeh in conversation with Ed Park

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh presents American Estrangement in conversation with David Adjmi

Saïd’s Upcoming Events

Short Stories

Honors, Awards & Recognition

LA Times Book Prize
Whiting Writers’ Award
PEN / Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize
NYU Outstanding Teaching Award
Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers – Fiction Fellowship
New York Foundation for the Arts – Fiction & Playwriting Fellowship
Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction
New York Theatre Workshop – Playwriting Fellowship

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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