Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat

I was looking to read about people in countries which have undergone political upheaval, that is when I came across this book. ‘Prisoner of Tehran’ in its own words is ‘one woman’s story of survival in a torture jail’.

I got a rare opportunity of reading a book without many breaks. It truly makes a difference in the way a book can affect you. And ‘Prisoner in Tehran’ by Marina Nemat surely did affect. It is surprising to know how politically aware and involved is the young people in countries that are unsettled, and it equally saddens to know what they go through just by voicing their opinion. Just voicing an opinion, just simple thing as having a conversation about what you like and what you don’t. For us, it truly sounds far-fetched to be in a situation like this. And that is the reason, somewhere in the middle, while reading the book, I asked myself if we take our freedom too lightly!

Every day newspapers are filled with stories of violence from across the world. There are several innocent people getting killed everywhere, there are countries who are constantly in turmoil, no law and order, no rules. 

Marina’s story is scary, even unreal, and sometimes too incredible to be true. You tend to feel empathetic and sorry for the people who live in a disillusioned state of a country. There are few choices and all wrong! It gnaws at your heart to read about such young people – teenagers - go through so much. It is disheartening to read about conditions that you would not even wish to your enemies.

It all boils down to only one thing - religion. Why did man create religion? Religion was supposed to be an individual choice of how they wanted to reach out to someone above, to the belief that there was someone there above who took care of us, who helped us in difficulties, who you call out to in moments of distress! And why did religion came to be mixed with politics? Religion should have remained personal. Just like it does not matter to others what food we eat at home or how we like our interiors, it should never have been anybody’s business as to how I reached out to my God, or even who was my God, for that matter! In the place where we have reached today is terrible and I don’t think we can ever go back and start this all over again, learning from where we went wrong.

It is certainly a difficult book to read, simply because Marina’s experiences have been horrific. My eyes were moist a lot of times, I even got a headache but I finished the book in 2 days flat.

I wanted to write about it before I forgot the feelings I experienced while reading it. And I’m happy that I could!

I completely believe that reading a book is an experience, and it changes with the book and the person reading it, who relates it to her own experiences. I just expressed my experience; I did not really review the book. For those who want to catch a review. Here’s one. Also read more about the Evin Prison here. This book is for anybody who wants to hear the voice that had always been there but probably not loud enough to reach us. I think it is really important to be aware about our world and what people go through while trying to live.


  1. I have read few books on similar themes and like you have always been affected by them. I think even Thousand Splendid Suns also works on similar theme!! I have it with me but yet to read it!!

    and you are so so right, we take our freedom of expression very lighglty because we have never experienced the other side of life!!! Seriously it is beyond me to even believe that these are kind of things are still happening in some corner of the world!!!

    Lovely review!! Lemme see if I can find the book :)

  2. Long time back I also read ‘Not without my daughter’ by Betty Mahmoody. It also evoked a similar response in me. I’m reading ‘Nine Parts of Desire’ right now by Geraldine Brooks. The one line which intrigued me and made me buy this book was that the book is about ‘the Hidden World of Islamic Women’.

    And one of my friends has ‘Thousand Splendid Suns’ and I surely want to read that too. I have read its review. It is supposed to be great!

  3. I have read not w/o my daughter!!! Though it was a sad story but as far as a book is concerned I found it pretty average read!

  4. Reading this book was an enlightening, and very disturbing, experience. Book like these make you value your freedom still further and you realize, if only for a bit, that corrupt politicians, bad roads and an inept government are tolerable oversights.

  5. Totally agree with you. We crib about so many small-small things, while there's so much of sufferrings and struggle out there!

  6. I found this book very moving and frightening to think of a world where this kind of life would be the norm. Well written and absorbing. I'm glad she has a much better life now and escaped from this tyranny.

  7. @Canada: My thoughts are exactly the same. Living in liberal, democratic society is a heaven when compared to this! Thanks for dropping by :-)

  8. Wonderful website. Lots of useful information here. I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks for your sweat!.