Faribā Vafi was born in Tabriz, the capital of the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, in 1963. She is considered one of Iran’s leading and most popular writers. With her minimalistic, poetically rich descriptions of ordinary sadness and inner conflict, she offers Western readers glimpses inside the Middle East that are far from stereotypical. She had already began writing stories in her youth and published her first short stories in, among other publications, »Adineh«, the most important independent magazine for art, life, and politics in 1980s and 1990s Iran, co-founded by Faraj Sarkohi.
Vafi is the author of seven novels and five story collections. Her debut novel »Parande-ye-man« (2002; Eng. »My Bird«, 2009) has been translated into several languages and uses a first-person narrator to describe the burdens that fall onto a mother whose husband is obsessed with the thought of emigrating to Canada. An unexpected linguistic dimension opens up within the narrator’s introversion that harbors the discord between remaining and the supposed freedom abroad. »Tarlan« (2006) is set during the political upheavals after the fall of the Shah and follows the story of a young woman who is forced to navigate between tradition and modernity. Out of fear of unemployment, the idealistic protagonist decides to enroll at the police academy. She can only find escape from the daily routines of the barracks and the social constraints thanks to her friend Rana, the books of Tolstoy or Mikhail Sholokhov, and her own writing ambitions. Later in an interview, Vafi stated that »Basically, I think the act of writing is, in a way, always a political one. As soon as you start writing, you are about to open a space for yourself – a space that was unlikely to be made available to you, taken from you, or withheld.« In an intimate, retrospective confession after a painful breakup, the narrator in »Rowya-ye-Tabbat« (2007; tr: Dream of Tibet) turns to her half-sister, where she finds refuge. Plagued by a recurring nightmare, Sholeh reflects on her own independence as she experiences personal growth through crisis while living with her family. As usual, Vafi opts for a quiet style of writing, but here, for the first time, she allows for temporal and spatial jumps and permits literary facts created within the fictional world to inextricably coexist with fantasy.
Vafi has been awarded the Hooshang Golshiri, Yalda, and Mehregan, Adab prizes as well as the Isfahan Literary Award. In 2017, she was awarded the newly founded Ahmad Mahmoud Prize and the LiBeraturpreis of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Vafi lives in Tehran. She is a 2020 guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.