About Christopher: As a student of Indian and Iranian Studies in the mid-1990s, reading Hindi and Persian at Cambridge, I was already plotting my departure from home. I moved almost the day after I graduated, to Delhi, where I joined India Today and wrote my first journalistic expose after posing as a smuggler of banned artefacts. Before the year was out, however, I had moved to Turkey to become correspondent for the Economist, learned Turkish, and spent the next four and a half years reporting on civil conflict, economic tomfoolery and the rise of political Islam.
In 2000 I visited Iran for the first time, falling for the country, and for a beautiful artist, Bita Ghezelayagh. In 2001 Bita and I married and I moved to Tehran as the Economist’s Iran correspondent.
For the next five years I was busy with Iran’s internal crises and George Bush’s war on terror, contributing to the New York Review of Books, Granta, the Guardian, Prospect, Harper’s and the New Yorker from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Armenia and Turkey, and writing my first books, on Iran and eastern Turkey.
I returned to the UK in 2007 and after a year as the Horne Fellow at St Antony’s, Oxford, returned to the city of my birth. A book of history (Patriot of Persia), a visiting Harvard fellowship and several BBC documentaries (on Egypt and Tunisia) later, I am currently metabolising my biggest literary mouthful to date: the story of the thinkers, scientists, writers and public figures who brought the Muslim Middle East into the modern world–Islam’s Enlightenment.
Talk Like an Iranian
Atlantic Monthly, September 2012
The process for acquiring Iranian citizenship is a mirage, as I discovered in 2004.
Getting Married in Iran
London Review of Books, July 5, 2001
In 2001 I married Bita Ghezelayagh, an Iranian artist and architect, and two worlds met in the hills over Tehran.