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Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

August 10, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

reading from

American Estrangement

published by W.W. Norton

One of Literary Hub‘s Most Anticipated Books of 2021

This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.


Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has been hailed by Philip Gourevitch as “a masterful storyteller working from deep in the American grain.” His new collection of stories—some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Best American Short Stories—is set in a contemporary America full of the kind of emotionally bruised characters familiar to readers of Denis Johnson and George Saunders. These are people contending with internal struggles—a son’s fractured relationship with his father, the death of a mother, the loss of a job, drug addiction—even as they are battered by larger, often invisible, economic, political, and racial forces of American society.

Searing, intimate, often slyly funny, and always marked by a deep imaginative sympathy, American Estrangement is a testament to our addled times. It will cement Sayrafiezadeh’s reputation as one of the essential twenty-first-century American writers.

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh was born in Brooklyn and raised in Pittsburgh. He is the author of a memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, and a story collection, Brief Encounters with the Enemy. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Cullman Center Fellowship. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, Granta, the New York Times Magazine, and McSweeney’s. He teaches at New York University and Hunter College and lives in New York City.



What has been said about the work of Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is a first-rate short story writer. Every sentence is a delight, and his work has a captivating, immersive quality that leaves the reader shaken and moved. American Estrangement is a superb book with a strange and subtle power sure to haunt readers long after they’ve closed the cover.

Phil Klay, author of Missionaries

Sad, mordant, and utterly beguiling, this pitch-perfect volume of stories broke my heart. American Estrangement’s characters are endlessly unsettled: stalked by unresolved pasts, trapped in the unbridgeable gulfs of the present moment. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh works like a miniaturist, impeccably tracing invisible negotiations between human beings—and these stories accumulate with a disquieting, invisible power.

David Adjmi, author of Lot Six

A haunting book, and filled with longing.

Hilton Als, author of White Girls

The stories in this moving and powerful collection are honest, unaffected, yet full of imagination. Whether set in the recent past or a speculative near future, they explore moments where personal and societal dysfunction converge, in prose that punches through the page. This book’s tough poetry tells us who we are and where we are headed, with equal parts sadness, humor, and hope.

Rajesh Parameswaran, author of I Am an Executioner

These stories combine the intensity of theater, the humor of your smartest friend, and the emotional insight of the imaginary and gentle god you might wish for and fear as a witness. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is an extraordinary talent, and these stories merit reading and rereading and rereading.

Rivka Galchen, author of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch

Sayrafiezadeh, entertaining and political without being heavy-handed, is a force to be reckoned with.



August 10, 2021
6:00 pm


City Lights Bookstore
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