During my first cup of coffee this morning I thought it was high time I post a review. I've read a couple of books this week... one pointless, frivolous, and lacking a strong plot line (just as a romance novel should be haha)... and another that was immensely powerful.
It's been a few days since I finished reading Marina Nemat's Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir, but it is still vivid in my mind. Typically I read a book in a day or two. I've been reading Nemat's work on and off since late May although it is a page turner, suspenseful, and relatively short at just under 300 pages. I've been a busy girl, but the fact that Nemat's writing called me back after a month long hiatus is a pretty good testament to its value.
Nemat tells the story of her life in Iran. Nemat, then a 16 year old girl, was imprisoned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in 1982 and tortured for two and a half years under a false charge of conspiracy against the Ayatollah Khomeini government. She provides accounts of her childhood in Tehran, the change of rule from Reza Shah Pahlavi to Ayatollah Khomeini, in-depth backgrounds on the lives of her fellow female inmates in Evin, and the psychological and physical torture she endured both inside the prison's walls and in her own family after her release.
Though this memoir could have been extremely negative, and in parts it is, Nemat does an adequate job in illustrating that despite everything she encounters Iran remains an integral part of her and her concept of home. Yes, the memoir is littered with descriptions of repression, torture, suicide, rape, and murder... but Nemat also portrays fond memories of life in Iran - visiting her family's summer cottage, falling in love, parties, and the birth of children. She expresses sadness at the thought of her own children never knowing Iran, never being able to see her country's beautiful landscape upon her emigration. In this regard, Nemat proves that one cannot view a country, a people, or a history in black and white terms but must recognize the existence of diversity.
Nemat's work is deeply engaging, emotional, and powerful. It's the kind of book where upon completion the reader is asked to contemplate and perhaps (as in my case) they will even acquire goosebumps. The Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir is an excellent read.