Mahin Manzarpour sold her businesses and moved to Irvine in 2003, to be geographically closer to her three children. She had lived in Northern California for nineteen years, and when I asked her which location she preferred, she smiled broadly and replied “Who doesn’t like Irvine?” At this time in her life, she especially loves the wonderful services for seniors, and the opportunities to volunteer.
As an avid reader, Mahin is often deep into two or three books at a time; two are for separate book clubs, and the third is for the informal book club that is her extended family. She had always enjoyed reading, but her love for literature began to blossom at the age of thirteen, when a school friend suggested that they spend the money they saved on novels written by the likes of Jane Austin. Growing up in Tehran, Iran, all the books she read had been translated from English and Russian into her native Farsi. Before graduating from high school, she had finished reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace in her own time; it remains her favorite book to this day.
In 1953, the democratically-elected Prime Minister, Muhammad Mossadegh, was ousted in a coup, and power was returned to the Shah. (U.S. involvement is well-documented). Mahin lived through the violence and oppression that ensued, and when it became apparent that the Islamic Revolution of 1979 would not bring about the changes that had been sought, she began to think of starting a new life elsewhere.
In 1984 Mahin immigrated to Northern California with her three children; she went from sweeping novels (she was an English teacher) to sweeping floors in a hair salon. Her husband continued his work in Iran for six years, so that they could pay the foreign student university fees for their children. During this time, Mahin reread familiar classics, but this time in English.
One of her granddaughters is writing Mahin’s biography; I eagerly await its publication.