The inspiration behind Only This Beautiful Moment by Abdi Nazemian

Posted in Author/Illustrator Posts on Tue, 7 November at 10.05 am

I’m so honored that my novel ONLY THIS BEAUTIFUL MOMENT is being published in the UK and Commonwealth by Little Tiger for many reasons, not least of which is that when I was growing up, I never thought a book that’s both this Iranian and this queer would ever be published, let alone that I would write it. This is in many ways a book about coming out of the shadows. My family, like many immigrant families, hid the secrets of their trauma from me. And perhaps learning from their example, I spent too many years hiding my queerness from them and from the world. What I found in writing this book is a firm belief that while our trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, so can our joy, our love, our loyalty, our poetry.

ONLY THIS BEAUTIFUL MOMENT is about three generations of men in the same Iranian family. Each of the Jafarzadeh men – Moud, Saeed and Bobby – tells the story of a teenage journey between Los Angeles to Tehran or vice versa. Because the novel takes place in the 1930s, the 1970s, and present day, it allowed me to dig into the complex connective tissue of history, and how we’re always carrying our history within us. It also allowed me to depict intergenerational grace and forgiveness. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with western friends who wanted to cast my family and my culture as the villains of my story for not embracing my sexuality. My friends often spoke the language of American self-empowerment, which tells us that if someone doesn’t accept us as we are, we should bid them goodbye. I spoke the language of immigrant families, which taught me that family loyalty comes before everything else. I felt caught between two worlds for most of my life, and often still do, which is why I try so hard to unite those two worlds in my fiction. In bringing conflicting worlds and identities together on the page, I hope to inspire myself to keep bridge-building off the page, and to keep striving for unity and forgiveness in a world full of division and shame.

I hope readers of this novel will be similarly inspired, and that they see this novel as an invitation to engage in many of life’s biggest questions about where we are now and how we got here, and to come up with their own unique answers. And I also hope that readers who are interested in the novel’s depiction of political issues, such as anti-queer legislation and western intervention in the Middle East, come away with an appreciation for how issues they may view as purely political are deeply personal for families like the Jafarzadeh family. Just like Moud develops a deeper empathy for his father and grandfather by learning their stories, I hope this novel inspires readers to really take the time to get to know people’s histories, and develop a deeper empathy for others. We’re all carrying so much intergenerational joy, trauma, love, fear, loyalty, and only by recognizing our common humanity can we create the most beautiful moments.