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Born and raised in Tehran, Parsipur received her B.A. in sociology from Tehran University in 1973 and studied Chinese language and civilization at the Sorbonne from 1976 to 1980. Her first book was Tupak-e Qermez (The Little Red Ball – 1969), a story for young people. Her first short stories were published in the late 1960s. One early story appeared in Jong-e Isfahan, no. 9 (June 1972), a special short-story issue which also featured stories by Esma'il Fasih, Houshang Golshiri, Taqi Modarresi, Bahram Sadeghi, and Gholam Hossein Saedi. Her novella Tajrobeh'ha-ye Azad (Trial Offers – 1970) was followed by the novel Sag va Zemestan-e Boland (The Dog and the Long Winter), published in 1976. In 1977, she published a volume of short stories called Avizeh'ha-ye Bolur (Crystal Pendant Earrings).
As of the late 1980s, Parsipur received considerable attention in Tehran literary circles, with the publication of several of her stories and several notices and a lengthy interview with her in Donya-ye Sokhan magazine. Her second novel was Touba va ma'na-ye Shab (Touba and the Meaning of Night – 1989), which Parsipur wrote after spending four years and seven months in prison. Right before her incarceration, in 1990, she published a short novel, in the form of connected stories, called Zanan Bedun-e Mardan (Women without Men), which Parsipur had finished in the late 1970s. The first chapter appeared in Alefba, no. 5 (1974). The Iranian government banned Women without Men in the mid-1990s and put pressure on the author to desist from such writing. Early in 1990, Parsipur finished her fourth novel, a 450-page story of a female Don Quixote called Aql-e abi'rang (Blue-colored Reason), which remained unavailable as of early 1992. In 1994 she went to the United State and wrote Prison Memoire, a 450 pages of her memoire of four different times that she was in different prisons. In 1996 she wrote her fifth novel Shiva, a science fiction in 900 pages. In 1999 she published her sixth novel, Maajerahaaye Saadeh Va Kuchake Ruhe Deraxat (The Plain and Small Adventures of the Spirit of the Tree), in 300 pages. In 2002, she published her seventh novel, Bar Baale Baad Neshastan (On the wings of Wind), in 700 pages.
Since 2006, she has been making different programs for Radio Zamaneh, situated in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Parsipur was recipient of the prestigious Hellmann Hammett Award for Human Rights in 1994 and was honored in 2003 at the Encyclopaedia IranicaGala in Miami, for her lifelong achievements as a novelist and literary figure, the first recipient of the International Writers Project Fellowship from the Program in Creative Writing and the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University for 2003-2004, and she received an honorary doctorate from Brown University in 2010.
She was married to the Iranian film director Nasser Taghvai, but the marriage ended in divorce after seven years. They have a son together.
- Touba and the Meaning of Night (novel - 1989- طوبی و معنای شب (داستان بلند)
- The Blue Reason (novel - 1994 - عقل آبی (داستان بلند)
- The Simple and Small Adventures of the Spirit of Tree (Novel - 1999 - ماجراهای ساده و کوچک روح درخت (داستان بلند)
- The Dog and the Long Winter (novel - 1974- سگ و زمستان بلند (داستان بلند)
- Asieh Between Two World (novel - 2009 - آسیه در میان دو دنیا (داستان بلند)
- Shiva (science fiction - 1999 - شیوا (داستان دانش)
- Prison Memoir (memoir - 1996) خاطرات زندان
- On the Wings of Wind (novel - 2002) بربال باد نشستن (داستان بلند)
- Women Without Men (novella - 1990 - Translations: Faridoun Farrokh زنان بدون مردان (داستانک)
- Trial Offer (novella - 1975 - تجربه های آزاد (داستانک)
- Cristal Pendants (short stories - 1974 - آویزه های بلور (مجموعه داستان)
- Red Ball (short story for children - 1969 - توپک قرمز )
- Tea Ceremony in the Presence of the Wolf (short stories - 1993 - آداب صرف چای در حضور گرگ
- Men from Various Civilizations (novella - 1993 - Translation: Steve MacDowell & Afshin Nassiri داستان های مردان تمدن های مختلف )
- Chinese Astrology, Paola Delsos (1975) - From English طالع بینی چینی
- Laotse and the Taoist Master, (1987) By Max Kaltenmark — From French لائوتزه و مرشدان دائوئی نوشته ماکس کالتنمارک، ترجمه از فرانسه
- Tanius' Cliff, (1991) By Amin Ma'luf — From French صخره تانیوس نوشته امین مالوف، ترجمه از فرانسه ٌ
- Witch Hunting, (1990) By Shirly Jackson — From English شکار جادوگران شرلی جاکسون، ترجمه از زبان انگلیسی
- History of China (1995) - From Opium Wars till Cultural Revolution 4 Volumes, From French تاریخ چین، از جنگ های تریاک تا انقلاب فرهنگی، چهار جلد ترجمه از فرانسه
- China History for Young People, (1990) - From French تاریخ چین برای نو جوانان، ترجمه از فرانسه
- Parapsychology,from the series of What I know, (1990) From French پیراروانشناسی از سری چه می دانم، ترجمه از فرانسه
- Travel to the West, (1995) By Wu Chengnen, translated from French سیر باختر، رمان، نوشته ووچنگ نن، ترجمه از فرانسه ُ
- Spanking the Maid, (2004) By Robert Coover مستخدمه کتک خور، نوشته رابرت کوورو ترجمه از انگلیسی
- Un Unquiet Mind, (2004) By Key Redfield Jamison — From English ذهن بی قرار، نوشته کای ردفیلد جامیسون، ترجمه از انگلیسی
- Mythology, (2003) By the group of Professors of different Universities اساطیر جهان، نوشته گروه دانشمندان اسطوره شناس دانشگاه های مختلف دنیا ترجمه از انگلیسی
Translation of her works
- In India, her novel Women without Men (Zanan Bedun-e Mardan in Persian; translated as Aanungal Illatha Pennungal) was translated into Malayalam by S.A. Qudsi and published by Mathrubhumi Books, Calicut, 2005. The book have also a French (translated as Femmes sans hommes), Portuguese and Spanish translation.
- In the USA, her novel Tuba and the Meaning of Night (Tuba va Ma'naye Shab in Persian; translated as Touba and the Meaning of Night) was translated into English by Kamran Talattof, 2005.
The book is also translated into German, Italian, Polish and Swedish.
- Shahrnush Parsipur's biography in BBC Persian
- Critics on Shahrnush Parsipur's book
- Interview in Hablando del Asunto by Catalina Rossini (in Spanish)