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Dr. Nassim Assefi


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Books by Nassim
Aria was published by Harcourt in 2007 and 5 Foreign Presses (in Dutch, Persian, Portuguese, Slovene, and Taiwanese). It is currently out of print, but available on the Kindle, at Amazon, and in libraries.  Audiobook is available via Audible, Amazon, and ITunes; you can listen to a 5 minute sample here or on Amazon or Audible.
Stay tuned for the publication of Say I Am You  



Jasmine is a cancer specialist and single mother in Seattle, long estranged from her Iranian parents and heritage. When faced with the sudden accidental death of Aria, her five-year-old daughter and only child, she finds little solace in the healing advice she’s prescribed to her dying patients and their families. Despite the loving support of her best friend Dot, a “little person” studying the role of dwarfs in ancient Egypt, and her boyfriend Alexander, a retired war correspondent, Jasmine is flattened by grief. Lacking religious scaffolding or comforting rituals, Jasmine abandons her life in exchange for a one-way ticket around the world.


This spiritual novel traces an agnostic's journey to find meaning after devastating loss. Along the way, she writes letters to three of her great loves, all now dead, and to her devoted friends, who encourage her to return home. Connecting with fundamental elements of life, she plants maize in Guatemala, meditates in Tibet, and participates in traditional grieving practices in Iran. It is only when Jasmine, this modern American woman, connects with her ancient heritage that she can finally heal.


Click here to read the first 25 pages of Aria.


Click here for a reader's guide with discussion questions and answers.


Click here for references related to themes in Aria (grief, death of a child and spouse, dwarfs, epistolary prose, mother-daughter relations, Tibet, Iran).



Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers:

 “With elegance and grace, Ms. Assefi maps her bereaved heroine’s flight through numerous countries and into the uncharted territory of grief. Sometimes raw, sometimes clinically detached, Aria is always human, and in the end, it soars.”

Rory Stewart, author of The Places In Between and The Prince of the Marshes:

"A haunting book, painfully open in its emotions, enacting in lyrical prose, an Iranian-American's loss, atonement and reconciliation with Iran and powerfully revealing of the discordancies and echoes that define the interaction between American and Persian culture."


Rebecca Brown, author of ten books including The Gifts of the Body, The Last Time I Saw You, and Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary:

"How long does grief last? How far away can we run to try to get away from it? What happens if it stays with us forever? In this wise and compassionate debut novel, Nassim Assefi looks at questions of memory, love and grief as she takes us to Tibet, China, Guatemela, her homeland Iran and, most importantly, the human heart."


Rabbi Michael Goldberg, PhD, hospice chaplain, university professor, author of many books including Raising Spirits: Stories of Suffering and Comfort at Death's Door:

"Aria is without doubt one of the most realistic accounts of grieving I have read, and certainly, the most exquisitely literate." 


John Marshall, book critic of The Seattle Post Intelligencer:

 Aria "beguiles with its honesty, humanity, empathy and insight... a small gem of a debut novel that manages to address huge issues in an affecting manner, from the immigrant experience in America to the aftershocks of tragedy to the search for family heritage and spiritual comfort." Click here to read the entire review. 


Bharti Kirchner of The Seattle Times:

"It is the charm, intelligence and dignity of Assefi's writing that make this a worthwhile read."


Bob Willliams of The Compulsive Reader Book Blog:

"There is much of talent in this remarkable book. It is a serious meditation on the greatest misfortune in life and an interesting display of the growth of the persons involved. It gains a certain topicality in the abundance of material from a part of the world little known or understood. Thus Aria stands out as notable achievement and should appeal to many discriminating readers." Click here to read the entire review.


Lindsey Rowe of Seattle Magazine:

"Assefi's writing is packed with potent emotion and poetic sentences...Aria is an excellent first novel and a worthy treatise on grief."