Welcome to our exclusive interview with the talented Dina Nayeri! Dina is a renowned author and writer, who has captured the hearts of many with her work. She has two novels and a book of creative nonfiction under her belt, with her most notable work being “The Ungrateful Refugee” (2019).

This book has received widespread recognition and has been showered with awards, including the Geschwister Scholl Preis, and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and the Elle Grand Prix des Lectrices. The Guardian has described the book as “a work of astonishing, insistent importance.” Her essay of the same name was one of The Guardian’s most widely read long reads in 2017 and is now a staple in classrooms and anthologies all over the world.

Dina’s achievements don’t stop there, she has been a Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, and the winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize. Her work has been published in over 20 countries and has appeared in prestigious publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker.

In addition to her literary accomplishments, Dina is a graduate of Princeton, Harvard, and the Iowa Writers Workshop. She has recently joined the faculty at the University of St. Andrews, where she will be sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience with the next generation of writers.

As for what Dina is working on next, she has several exciting projects in the pipeline. From plays and screenplays, to the upcoming publication of “Who Gets Believed“, a creative nonfiction book that made our list of the most anticipated non-fiction books of 2023. It’s safe to say that Dina has a lot of captivating stories to tell, and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Enjoy our interview with Dina Nayeri…

How do you describe your occupation?


What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?

I just finished IN by Will McPhail, a beautiful graphic novel.  I’m reading more by Scottish writers, now that I live here.

Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?

The Little Black Fish by Salad Behrangi (though my mother had previously read it to me many times).

When did you first have the idea for your new book, Who Gets Believed, and how did you begin the process of writing it?

It grew out of my last nonfiction book, The Ungrateful Refugee. In that book I tried to show native-born readers all the unseen struggles and psychic impact of being a refugee.  One of the biggest struggles of displacement is that you tell stories according to your old culture, and so are often disbelieved by your new community.  This led me to consider all the other groups who are systematically disbelieved (women, POC, etc).  And, on the flip side, all the grifters who are believed, simply because they know our codes and shortcuts.

When did you fall in love with reading?

The moment I learned to read.

You’re an author of fiction and non-fiction, but if you HAD to pick just one to write for the rest of your life – which would you pick and why?

Fiction, because I can tell every nonfiction story under that umbrella as well. To call a story fiction, you only have to alter one or two key facts.

If you could gift yourself books at age 16 and age 25 – what would they be and why?

What are perfect reading conditions for you?

In bed with a cup of coffee and some background music.

For someone starting out in your career, which three books would you make required reading and why?

I don’t believed in required reading. I believe in access and curiosity. So instead of assigning three books, I’d drop everyone into a library full of stories from the world, and take away their devices.

If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?

Oh never! Why would I ruin my favourite books that way?  My dinner party with dead people would be full of villains. I’d watch them and take notes.

What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?

An anthology of short stories because that’s my favourite form.

What can readers expect from your new book, Who Gets Believed?

To be furious by what passes for justice in this world, and moved by the bravery and compassion of everyday people.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?

Edit mercilessly.  Don’t publish too early.

What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It made me want to be a writer.

Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?

I’m in the middle of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris.  I’m loving it so far.
If you enjoyed this interview with Dina Nayeri, be sure to visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Image credit: Anna Leader