Synopsis from the back of the book:
Marina was interrogated, tortured and finally sentenced to death. At the last moment, her prison guard snatched her from the firing-squad bullets but demanded a shocking price in return: marriage to him and conversion to Islam. She spent her time in jail as his secret bride, always hoping she would be able to go home and be free of her horrific memories of Evin.”
Prisoner of Tehran was suggested to me as my read for Iran by a fellow Canadian expat & I am so glad that I took her advice and read this book. Prisoner of Tehran is the story of Marina Nemat (nee Moradi-Bakht), a Christian Iranian who was arrested for daring to stand up to the barbaric rule of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Nemat says at the beginning of the book that “although this is a work of non-fiction, I have changed names to protect the identities of my cellmates, and I have added the details of other prisoners’ stories to theirs, merging lives and reshaping them. This has enabled me to safely tell of life and death behind the walls of Evin and remain true to what we went through, without putting anyone in danger or invading anyone’s privacy…” And what a story it is!
I found Prisoner of Tehran to be a very easy, but very engaging read (if one could call reading such terrible things easy, that is). Being a pampered, free westerner, I can hardly fully understand what Nemat was put through – if I don’t like my government (which I don’t at the moment), then I know that I have the right to speak out about them & know that no one will come to my home, arrest me, torture me, then put me in front of a firing squad. For this, I am glad that I am a pampered westerner! I cannot imagine having to live with someone knowing that they saved your life & now consider you their property, that you are there to satisfy their needs. I think what would be worse would be feeling like you had sold out by giving up on what you in your heart believe in (your faith) & knowing that the man who “saved” you really believes that because you spoke out, you deserved to die.
I understand that Nemat has received a fair amount of criticism, with other Evin prisoners saying the book is a lie, but lie or not (& I choose to believe that it is what Nemat say it is), I think it is a book that all pampered westerners should read. I think a lot more of us would appreciate our freedom much more than we already do!