‘Everything Sad is Untrue’ – What it was like for an Iranian refugee to grow up in Oklahoma

Great State

EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – He’s walked the crooked paths of his earliest memories many times.

“Specific people are tied to specific locations,” he says while walking a park path in Edmond, Okla.

But it’s been 20 years since Daniel Nayeri actually placed his feet on them.

He admits, “I get vertigo going back that fast through time.”

Nayeri played in the woods behind Edmond’s Hafer Park and got his first taste of Oklahoma summers here.

“We’d get watermelons from a truck on the side of the road and bring them here to eat,” he recalls.

It’s been 20 years since he visited the old Brentwood Apartments, or the house he lived in for eight years after that.

“This was the original home here in the U.S.,” says Nayeri as he points to his original apartment.

If you look close, the house is the same one on the cover of his book called “Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)”

“That was my bedroom right there,” he points.

“I wanted to become a writer here,” Nayeri continues. “And I would tell the story of our family in a thousand different ways.”

Daniel was eight years old when he moved to Edmond with his mother and older sister.

They were refugees, escapees from Iran, insisting, “If she doesn’t take a look at the Bible and say, ‘This is true’ – she converted to Christianity, which is a capital crime in Iran – if she doesn’t do that then the whole story doesn’t happen.”

They spent three years in refugee camps until a family in Edmond sponsored them.

His book contains the sometimes difficult memories of adjusting to America and the courage of a mother who went from a comfortable life as a doctor to a much poorer existence, an amazing leap of faith.

He insists, “She valued her faith more than all those things.”

But there is warmth in these pages too in the form of gratitude for the family and the community that took them in.

Nayeri says, “That was one of those great acts of generosity.”

Daniel is on a three-month-long book tour of the United States, telling his own Oklahoma story.

He signs books in lots of places, but only here can he actually touch the memories.

Click here more information on Daniel Nayeri and ‘Everything Sad is Untrue’.

You can watch a short documentary about the book and his mom here:


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