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Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir Paperback – Apr 8 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (April 8 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143052179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143052173
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In Tehran in the early 1980s, after she leads a strike in high school to get her math teacher to teach calculus not politics, Marina, 16, a practicing Catholic, is locked up for two years and tortured with her school friends in the Ayatollah Khomeini's notorious Evin political prison. She is saved from execution by an interrogator, Ali, who wants to marry her and threatens to hurt her family and Catholic boyfriend, Andre, if she refuses. Forced to convert to Islam, she becomes Ali's wife; then he is assassinated by political rivals, and she rejoins her family and marries Andre. They immigrate to Canada in 1991. For more than 20 years, secure in her middle-class life, she keeps silent, until she writes this 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. The quiet, direct narrative moves back and forth from Toronto to Nemat's childhood under the shah's brutal regime and, later, during the terror under Khomeini. Despite the rabid politics and terrifying drama, the most memorable aspect of the story is the portrait of Ali, Nemat's savior, in love with her, so kind to her--Does he kill people when he goes off to work in the prison each day? Her comment that she wishes "the world were a simple place where people were either good or evil" is as haunting as her guilt and love. When she asks Andre to forgive her long silence, he asks her to forgive his not asking. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Fritzen on Nov. 28 2011
Format: Paperback
For Christmas 2009, my daughter in Whitehorse recorded a series of CBC podcasts, because she knows I like to stay connected to Canada when I ply the freeways of Europe. My first reaction to the title "Prisoner of Tehran" was a groan. Oh no! I won't hear about Spadina Avenue or Stanley Park, but get more negative stuff out of the Middle East than I care for after listening to the news every day.

I popped it in anyway. From the first line, I was hooked. It starts "There is an ancient Persian proverb that says, "The sky is the same colour wherever you go." But the Canadian sky was different from the one I remembered from Iran, it was a deeper shade of blue and seemed endless, as if challenging the horizon".

Not only is this a sublimely poetic start to a gripping story; it matched my own experiences as immigrant to Canada from hazy Europe. From there on, I hung on the narrator's every word, as the story unfolds of terrible fear and pain in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, and the ultimate victory of decency. I have since bought the book at a dozen or more times, both in English and in German, and given it to friends and family.

After I finished listening I did something I had never done before. I wrote an email to the author and thanked her for the story. I didn't really expect a reply. At best, something along the lines of "Thanks for your kind words, Gabriel". But I was wrong. Ms. Nemat replied in detail to my comments. And from this, a beautiful friendship has evolved spanning two continents. Ms.Nemat's humility and warmth just blew me away.

On Amazon Germany, Prisoner of Tehran has 19 ratings as of November 2011, almost all top 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kristy on April 2 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am sickened by some of the negative reviews people have posted on this page. For one, even if much of this story was made up, ONE innocent prisoner beaten is one too many. For people who think this story is fabricated, they are naive to the horror humans are capable of doing to one another and/or they are sadly missing the entire message. Stories like this MUST be told. Because of fear and threat that victims feel, evil is able to thrive. And people who choose to deny the occurrence of events such as those told by Marina, are second-handedly contributing to the silence. These stories MUST be told! I support anyone who is courageous enough to speak out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lyle G. Appleyard on Aug. 1 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book for a book club meeting I plan to attend.

I had heard, a long time ago, that reading biographies is a good way to learn about history. Just to clarify that statement, I beleive they should be biographies about people that had a part in history. I don't normally read biographies about actors or athletes. I like to read biographies about people who made history or were a part of it.

That is why I liked this book. It is a real person. She lived through an expereince that I would wish on no one. It was part of history that we had not heard that too much of. There were few people who could.

The authour had two purposes in this novel. One is tell her story. We all have a story to tell. Some people have a better strory to tell, some can tell a story better. This author can do both. This is a story that needs to be told and we have a storyteller that can tell a story. So many people who try to tell their story, can't tell it properly. It is such a boon to the reader when both are achieved.

The other purpose is that the author had to tell this story. I don't know why talking about our bad experiences makes us feel better. The author needed to tell us her story for her own piece of mind. And for the hundreds of women that could not.

The story had what I expected, torture and executions. There were a few twists that I did not expect. But there had to be for the author to survive a prison for political prisoners in Iran after the revolution.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, especially 20th century. I liked the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Cowan on Sept. 22 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the story of the cruel torture of a young woman whose 'crime' was to ask for an improved educational standard. She wanted to learn more. How dare she, a female, make any request at all?

This is a story that explains brutal sexist violence authorized by religion, and the failure of the ignorant to staunch the strength of an intelligent woman who found her way to a much better world with her reflective mind - and her pen.

An excellent read!

Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By annie.malk on April 14 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I live in Montreal North, Quebec, and although I have yet to receive the Prisoner of Tehran book to date, I know that it has been shipped about a month earlier before my move from the Saint-Laurent area in the west of Montreal to where I live now since March 31st. Although I cannot review the Prisoner of Tehran as well as I am able to since I have not had the pleasure of reading it yet, but because of the fact that I have heard good reviews and have had the pleasure of watching the Marilyn Dennis show where the author was being interviewed by the host, I know that I will just love it!
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