Esther Amini, Author — An Interview

Dec 04, 2021 by Valerie Taylor, in My Blog
In naming CONCEALED (Greenpoint Press, 2020) as one of The Best Books of 2020, Kirkus Reviews said this memoir is “A moving, engaging investigation of culture and family.” As such, I was thrilled to interview Esther as part of a research project focusing on nine writers who published their first books after the age of 60. Since I could only include a snippet from each of those interviews in Better Later than Never, the full interview below provides insight as to why you should read CONCEALEDCONCEALED cover photo

CONCEALED is about being born in New York and raised by Iranian parents who lived as Crypto-Jews, underground Jews, in Iran and in 1946 fled the fanatically Islamic city of Mashhad. America and Iran were diametric opposites, as were my parents. The book is about growing up caught between two clashing cultures. From early childhood through adulthood, my perceptions and understanding of my family and these two worlds evolved. Readers will find a great deal of humor and pathos in the story.

Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating this memoir in your mid-sixties?
A. I come from a legacy of concealment. My parents had to hide their true identity in order to survive, as did my ancestors. I also come from a long line of women who were kept out of classrooms and not allowed to become literate. My mother, grandmothers, great-grandmothers…are just a few examples. So to sit down and tell a story they were fearful of telling, and also unequipped to, was difficult for me. Writing meant battling the prohibitive voice of Mashhad, the one that forbade transparency. Even though I had never stepped foot in Mashhad, I felt its stranglehold.

Q. Why did it take you until 60+ to write your book?
A. I’m a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and have been in private practice for the past 42 years. In order to take on this enormous project and do it justice, I needed to find the right space and time in my life. I also wanted sufficient distance to gain perspective, to fully understand and digest all I had experienced.

Q. What in your personal experience/career made its way into your story?
A. I welcomed all of my memories and all of my experiences. The goal was to integrate disparate parts.

 Q. If you could change anything about your writing life (writing career), what would it be and why?
A. I wouldn’t change a thing. Every challenge, every delay, every mistake led to writing this book when I actually did. No regrets.

Q. What advice would you give to those who come behind us?
A.  Fight your fears. We don’t know what we are capable of doing. Too often there's an inner gnawing voice that says “I can’t.”  That voice lies.

CONCEALED is available in both hardcover and paperback, as well as an eBook! Here’s one link for your convenience.

You can also follow Esther at:
Instagram: estheraminiauthor