When Skateboards Will Be Free

Josh Hamilton reads from American-Iranian writer Said Sayrafiezadeh's funny and touching memoir.

Abridged by Francois Smit.

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Josh Hamilton reads from American-Iranian writer Said Sayrafiezadeh's funny and touching memoir.

Abridged by Francois Smit.

Confident that his absent father will one day lead a revolution, young Said is content to join in the struggle - until he finds that the rules extend to boycotting certain foods.

The more his mother tells him that it is shameful to eat grapes because capitalists are not giving farm workers their rights, the more succulent the forbidden fruit seems.

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Said, now aged ten, and his mother move from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh and into a squalid apartment.

While she attends Socialist Workers Party meetings, a lonely Said faces the terrors of strange noises and eerie shadows which only the TV can keep at bay.

So when his mother hides the cord to the TV set, he is bereft.


Said has a treasured photo of his father giving a speech, which hangs above his bed.

It is blurred and eventually Said conflates his father's image with that of another hero his mother tells him about: Che Guevara.

One night his mother receives a rare phone call from her estranged husband and is so distraught that she takes the phone off its hook every night.

Just as Said feels that his father has abandoned them, he receives a letter from him.

Oddly, his dad congratulates him for selling a record number of Militants at a demonstration but Said, at ten, is too young to have been given such a task, although now he badly wants to make money for the revolution.


It is the time of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and Said is bullied at school because he says that the American diplomats were spies.

Out of the blue, his mother leaves the Socialist Workers Party and devotes herself to writing magazine stories, which are all rejected.

One night Said discovers that she has taken all her medication but he is able to get her to a doctor, even as she repeatedly tells him she does not want to live.

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Now grown up, Said takes a job in the corporate offices of the lifestyle expert Martha Stewart.

He loves buying designer accoutrements for his tiny apartment and falls in love with a co-worker, Karen.

His mother comes to visit and asks if he has heard from his father.

He has not, but he reminisces about the last time they met.

He was 17 and it was a very uncomfortable meal.

He hugs his now frail mom and rides away on the subway with Karen.