How James Lasdun Found Himself Victimized by Anti-Semitic Cyber-Stalker

Writing Was Author's Escape From Non-Stop Online Abuse

Kurt Hoffman

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published February 25, 2013, issue of March 01, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 5)

Meanwhile, Lasdun’s creative output diminished. Between 2007 and 2010, he and Davis wrote a travel guide together, and he published a single book of stories, “It’s Beginning To Hurt,” made up mostly of previously written material. “He couldn’t move forward. He was blocked,” was how his agent of 27 years described his condition in an interview. (Lasdun asked that the agent, who is identified by a pseudonym in the book, remain nameless, out of concern that publicizing her identity could put others in the book at risk.) Lasdun’s apprehension grew. The fact that Nasreen had moved to California was cold comfort; he wondered whom she would contact next.

In an effort to wrest control of his own narrative, he tried to document the stalking on a personal website, complete with samples of Nasreen’s emails that he could show to future employers or professional contacts in case she reached them. But he realized how paranoid it made him seem. “To say, ‘Someone is accusing me of being in a Jewish conspiracy to steal her work and sell it to Jewish Iranian writers,’ I mean, right off the bat you can tell that whoever is listening thinks they are entering into a world of total lunacy,” he said. Instead, Lasdun decided to write a book. “I didn’t feel like I had a choice about writing it,” he said. “It was all I could think about.”

In fact, writing the book is the only activity that has offered him psychological relief. “The most unpleasant part of it was not being able to think about other things,” he said. “Writing about it has made me less captive to it.”

He says the project also made him probe his own ideas about anti-Semitism, and it led him to revisit an incident in the life of his father, the renowned British architect Sir Denys Louis Lasdun. His father received a hate letter not unlike Nasreen’s when he was drawing up a proposal for the Hurva Synagogue, a historic building in Jerusalem. Lasdun is now researching a project on a distant relative named Baron Maurice de Hirsch who seeded Jewish farming settlements in the 1800s.

But the situation with Nasreen is far from resolved. Last summer, she began calling Lasdun at home. One time, Davis answered the phone. She can’t remember what they spoke about — “She didn’t say anything totally crazy” — but she does remember Nasreen accusing her of having the call traced by the police. Nasreen left several ferocious messages on the home answering machine. (After getting the approval of lawyers from his publisher, Lasdun played one of the messages for me. She sounded measured at first, then veered into a shriek: “The more trouble you get me into, the more deep you’re in, you piece of f—king dirt!” The publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux said that it relied on Lasdun’s account of the stalking, which corresponded with his agent’s story, to vet the book.)


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.