Marjan Kamali is the author of The Stationery Shop (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster), a national bestseller, and Together Tea (EccoBooks/HarperCollins), a Massachusetts Book Award finalist. The Stationery Shop is being adapted into a TV series at HBO and Together Tea was adapted for the stage. Kamali’s novels are published in translation in more than 20 languages and The Stationery Shop was awarded the Prix Attitude in France. Her essays have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Literary Hub, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Kamali holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from University of California, Berkeley, an MBA from Columbia University, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from New York University. Born in Turkey to Iranian parents, Kamali spent her childhood in Turkey, Iran, Germany, Kenya, and the U.S. She now lives in the Boston area with her family.
As a child, I moved around a lot. The United States is the seventh country in which I’ve lived and America is the fifth continent. When I left war in Iran at age ten and entered public school in New York City, kind teachers asked how I was handling the culture shock. At the time, I didn’t have the heart to say that New York and Tehran weren’t all that different. Because even though the outfits, language, and political systems seemed poles apart, the human dynamics in the lunchroom, classrooms, and on the playground were the same the world over. People everywhere want love, security, and a chance to fulfill their potential. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to write stories that showed the enrichment and estrangement of uprooted lives and the universality of our human condition. This award from the National Endowment for the Arts is deeply meaningful in a very personal way. When I received the call, decades of struggling and scraping and working into the night felt legitimized and validated. Thank you to the NEA for believing in me and my work. I hope to continue to give back to this community of arts which has given me such unexpected empowerment and joy. I am deeply grateful.