Prisoner of Tehran - Book Review

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Prisoner of Tehran
Marina Nemat
John Murray Publishers
Great Britain 2007
Word count - 799

Prisoner of Tehran recounts the memoirs of Marina Nemat growing up during the Iranian revolution. Following an idyllic childhood, the author’s happiness comes to an abrupt end when at the age of sixteen; Nemat is captured, interrogated and sentenced to life in prison. The book is not always easy to read due to the author’s frankness of her ordeal, however it is testimony to her bravery. The author conveys a tale of survival and her book is evidence of faith, forgiveness, hope and love.
Nemat immigrated to Canada in 1991 and remained silent about the horrors of her childhood for over twenty years. After suffering from flashbacks, nightmares, and being haunted by the death of loved ones Marina kept a diary recounting the events in Evin prison. A good friend read Marina’s diary and encouraged her to publish her memoirs. The author was a finalist in the CBC Literary Awards in creative non-fiction. She has also received the inaugural human dignity award from the European Parliament and a fellowship in Toronto’s Massey College.
The cover of the book is interesting, it depicts a woman whose face is concealed by a hejab, a head scarf worn by Muslim women. The woman holds two roses, one in full bloom and the other is withered and has lost its petals. I feel the cover symbolises Nemats’ loss of childhood. In the centre of the book there are fourteen photographs, snapshots from Marina’s childhood. The photographs provide a visual interpretation of Nemats life and provide the reader with an insight into the author‘s idyllic childhood.   These pictures help add another dimension to Nemat’s memoirs and help the reader identify with the author.
The book takes us to a time when Nemat is a sixteen year old schoolgirl from a middle-class Christian family living in Tehran. The reigning monarch is overthrown by an Islamic revolution which then appoints Ayatollah Khomeini as its...

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