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Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoirby Marina Nemat
"Nemat's story is not so much a political history lesson than it is a memoir of faith and love, a protest against violence that cannot be silenced. Following Nemat as she follows her intuition through these treacherous events is like watching a stalk of grass that repeatedly bends without breaking through the wind and rain of a violent storm only to rise and stretch toward the sun once more. Her persistence in standing for goodness is a lesson for us all." Kendra Nordin, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)
Synopses & Reviews
What would you give up to protect your loved ones? Your life?
In her heartbreaking, triumphant, and elegantly written memoir, Prisoner of Tehran, Marina Nemat tells the heart-pounding story of her life as a young girl in Iran during the early days of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal Islamic Revolution.
In January 1982, Marina Nemat, then just sixteen years old, was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death for political crimes. Until then, her life in Tehran had centered around school, summer parties at the lake, and her crush on Andre, the young man she had met at church. But when math and history were subordinated to the study of the Koran and political propaganda, Marina protested. Her teacher replied, "If you don't like it, leave." She did, and, to her surprise, other students followed.
Soon she was arrested with hundreds of other youths who had dared to speak out, and they were taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Two guards interrogated her. One beat her into unconsciousness; the other, Ali, fell in love with her.
Sentenced to death for refusing to give up the names of her friends, she was minutes from being executed when Ali, using his family connections to Ayatollah Khomeini, plucked her from the firing squad and had her sentence reduced to life in prison. But he exacted a shocking price for saving her life — with a dizzying combination of terror and tenderness, he asked her to marry him and abandon her Christian faith for Islam. If she didn't, he would see to it that her family was harmed. She spent the next two years as a prisoner of the state, and of the man who held her life, and her family's lives, in his hands.
Lyrical, passionate, and suffused throughout with grace and sensitivity, Marina Nemat's memoir is like no other. Her search for emotional redemption envelops her jailers, her husband and his family, and the country of her birth — each of whom she grants the greatest gift of all: forgiveness.
"Nemat tells of her harrowing experience as a young Iranian girl at the start of the Islamic revolution. In January 1982, the 16-year-old student activist was arrested, jailed in Tehran's infamous Evin prison, tortured and sentenced to death. Ali, one of her interrogators, intervened moments before her execution, having used family connections with Ayatollah Khomeini himself to reduce her sentence to life in prison. The price: she would convert to Islam (she was Christian) and marry him, or he would see to it that her family and her boyfriend, Andre, were jailed or even killed. She remained a political prisoner for two years. Nemat's engaging memoir is rich with complex characters—loved ones lost on both sides of this bloody conflict. Ali, the man who rapes and subjugates her, also saves her life several times—he is assassinated by his own subordinates. His family embraces Nemat with more affection and acceptance than her own, even fighting for her release after his death. Nemat returns home to feel a stranger: 'They were terrified of the pain and horror of my past,' she writes. She buries her memories for years, eventually escaping to Canada to begin a new life with Andre. Nemat offers her arresting, heartbreaking story of forgiveness, hope and enduring love — a voice for the untold scores silenced by Iran's revolution." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[An] unforgettable memoir. Haunted by her lost friends and by her betrayal of them, Nemat tells her story without messages and with no sense of heroism." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Anguished that she survived when so many others perished, Nemat pays tribute to them by testifying about her ordeal in spare, moving prose devoid of self-pity. An important eyewitness account..." Kirkus Reviews
"Nemat's story is not so much a political history lesson than it is a memoir of faith and love, a protest against violence that cannot be silenced." Christian Science Monitor
"Like a harrowing Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Prisoner of Tehran is the story of Marina Nemat — her unvarnished courage, her intrepid wisdom, her fight to save her integrity and her family in a world in which to be female is to be chattel. Written with the deft hands of a novelist, it is the portrait of a world only too real, where women's lives are cheap — but not this one." Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Cage of Stars
Book News Annotation:
Complaining about curriculum changes in her school in the years immediately following Iran's Islamic Revolution, 16-year-old Marina Nemat found herself arrested and imprisoned in Tehran's Evin Prison, notorious for its political prisoners' wing from before the revolution and since. Sentenced to death, she was spared at the last minute by the intervention of one of her jailers in exchange for marrying him. In this memoir, she describes her years at Evin, her eventual release following the death of her husband-jailer, her re- marriage to an Iranian Catholic, and their flight to the United States. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Already sold in eight countries, Prisoner of Tehran is the heartbreaking story of the price a 16-year-old Iranian girl was forced to pay for her freedom — and her life.
About the Author
Marina Nemat grew up in Tehran, Iran. In 1991, she emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, where she now lives with her husband, Andre, and their two sons.
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