Inspired by her return to Tehran after decades of exile following the Islamic Revolution, acclaimed chef and memoirist, Donia Bijan, brings to life a powerful story of family and homecoming in her debut novel, The Last Days of Café Leila (publication date: April 18, 2017, $25.95). Set against Iran’s rich, tragic history, Bijan’s novel puts a personal face to the country’s politics, past and present. In the words of Aline Ohanesian (Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist and author of Orhan’s Inheritance), “Bijan’s moving portrayal of love and loss . . . will break your heart into a million pieces then nurse it back to health word by word, story by story.”
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In Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen (Algonquin, 2011), Donia Bijan uses the language of food to tell her story, and to honor her mother from whom she learned to cook. Donia’s journey begins in Tehran where she spent her childhood playing on the grounds of her father’s hospital and helping her mother prepare traditional Persian dishes. Her childhood was rather idyllic until the Islamic Revolution forced her family to flee to the United States in 1978. Donia’s journey continues in America where, as a teenager, she was seduced by fast food and designer jeans, and then on to France where her passion for cooking led her to study at the prestigious Cordon Bleu. Ultimately Donia returned to the United States, where she received high praise from national media such as Elle, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet Magazine as a chef in some of San Francisco’s best restaurants and, later, for her own French-inspired bistro, L’Amie Donia.