Synopses & Reviews
Three young Americans captured by Iranian forces and held in captivity for two years tell their story.
In summer 2009, Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan when they unknowingly crossed into Iran and were captured by a border patrol. Accused of espionage, the three Americans ultimately found themselves in Tehrans infamous Evin Prison, where they discovered that pooling their strength of will and relying on each other were the only ways they could survive.
In this poignant memoir, “the hikers” finally tell their side of the story. They recount the deception that lured them into Iran in the first place and describe the psychological torment of interrogation and solitary confinement. We follow them as they make surprising alliances with their fellow prisoners and even some of their captors, while their own bonds with each other are tested and deepened. Told through a bold and innovative interweaving of the authors three voices, here is a rare glimpse inside Iran and a timeless portrayal of hardship and hope.
"In this critical but affectionate portrait of Iranian politics and culture, Majd, the Western-educated grandson of an ayatollah, delves into the very core of Iranian society, closely examining social mores and Farsi phrases to identify the Persian sensibility, which, Majd determines, cherishes privacy, praise and poetry. Nothing is too small or too sweeping for Majd to consider, and although he announces his allegiance to the former president Khatami, he remains scrupulously even-handed in assessing his successor Ahmadinejad, shedding light on the Iranian president's 'obsession' with the Holocaust and penchant for windbreakers and why the two are (surprisingly) intertwined. The author's brisk, conversational prose is appealing; his book reads as if he is chatting with a smart friend, while strolling around Tehran, engaged in ta'arouf (an exaggerated form of self-deprecation key to understanding Persian society). Although Majd seems to gloss too quickly over realities that don't engage his interest women's voices are only intermittently included this failing scarcely mars this remarkable ride through what is often uncharted territory." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Riveting and necessary and illuminating in countless unexpected ways. The hikers have pulled off the almost impossible task of making from their hellish experience something of beauty and grace." — Dave Eggers
"A Sliver of Light weaves a spellbinding tale of hard-won survival at the intersection of courage and love — the love of friends struggling to support one another in wretched circumstances, the unyielding bedrock of mothers' love for their long-lost children, and the fiercely tested love of three people for the family of humankind. It is a triumph of writing born of a triumph of being." — Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree and The Noonday Demon
This stylish, witty, and enlightening portrait of contemporary Iran brilliantly captures the often misunderstood character of the people and their complex, paradoxical, and changing nation. Two 8-page color photo inserts.
Three Americans captured by Iranian forces and held in captivity for years reveal, for the first time, the full story of their imprisonment and fight for freedom.
About the Author
SHANE BAUER is an investigative journalist and photographer. He has reported from locations such as Iraq, Sudan, Chad, Syria, Yemen, Israel/Palestine, and California’s Pelican Bay supermax prison. He has written for Mother Jones, The Nation, Salon, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and others. He has received the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism, the John Jay/ H.F. Guggenheim Award for Criminal Justice Reporting, and many other national awards. He was also a finalist in the Livingston Award for journalists under 35.
JOSHUA FATTAL is a historian with a background in environmental sustainability. Prior to his arrest in Iran, he taught in Asia about the political economy of healthcare and was co-director of an environmental education center in Oregon. Joshua has also taught nonviolent communication, qi gong, and yoga. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his partner and child.
SARAH SHOURD is a writer, educator and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch currently based in Oakland, California. Sarah has done international human rights work with the Zapatista indigenous movement in Chiapas, Mexico; organized with women’s groups against unsolved murders of sweatshop workers in Juarez, Mexico; and taught for the Iraqi Student Project while living in Damascus, Syria. After her wrongful imprisonment in Iran, Sarah has become an advocate for prisoners' rights, focusing her writing, speaking, and theater projects on the wide-spread use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. She has written for the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, and Newsweek/Daily Beast, and contributes a blog to Huffington Post.