An interview with the author of the book “Damavand from the Manhattan skyscraper

Ali Hasanzade: I tried to narrate my own 

June 24, 2022 - 18:47

"Damavand from the Manhattan skyscrapers" is a story about Ali Hassanzadeh's memories in the United States.

He moved to the United States as a digital media student and returned to Iran two years later. He has discussed the country's capitalist system as well as his observations of New York marriages and the educational system in his narrative.

* What prompted you to start writing this book in the first place?

I grew up in a religious family. I worked as an advertiser and spent a lot of time each day studying Western media when the Internet first arrived in Iran. Unsurprisingly, whatever I heard about the ideal Muslim community, I saw it in the West, especially in America. In any case, the course of events brought me to America as a student. Given my background in writing and the ethnographic units I completed there, I attempted to transfer my experience.

Although we consider America an enemy, we are largely ignorant of this particular enemy. Our authors have written three or four books about America, but none of them adequately capture the experience of being an American citizen. I went there wanting to know about the confusing American system. When you first travel somewhere as a tourist, everything is new and exciting. However, as time goes on and you become accustomed to the place, you learn about new layers of the system and get increasingly accurate answers to your questions.

After a few years had passed since my return to Iran, the Supreme Leader's office sent me an email informing me of the upcoming Memoir Writing Festival for Students Abroad. shared one of the brief memories, and to my surprise, it was chosen as the best work. The following year, I finished the book and sent it, and it once again took first place! There I realized the audience seemed to find my personal experiences interesting.

* How did you represent America differently in this book?

We are unable to fool ourselves. America is a system that functions effectively. Years ago, a gentleman claimed that in order to get to the ideal Iran and Islamic civilization, we had to cross the West. He struck me as being incredibly accurate. To increase our security, we must cross over and utilize it. America is a wise but waning foe to us. We must recognize its various components and put them to use.

* What makes readers want to read a travelogue?

I've read a lot of travelogues, but I'll be honest: I've never been fascinated by the idea of writing in accordance with the rules of writing. It was challenging for a young Shia Muslim to write a travelogue of the United States while trying to be truthful and tell my own story.

Also, Sardar Soleimani was martyred on the exact same day that the book was completed. The publisher compared the release of my book to someone visiting SAVAK in 1978 during the revolution and filling out an employment application! 

To cut a long story short, there were numerous difficulties encountered during the publication of this book.


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