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Reviews & Interviews      

Reviews, profiles, and print interviews:

"Prisoner of Tehran, Nemat's brilliant 2007 memoir, was at once an exquisite work of art about the burden of memory, and an astonishing story. Nemat details how she was arrested at 16 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards (for the crime of asking her math teacher for more calculus and less religious propaganda); her incarceration in the infamous Evin Prison (where she was beaten and tortured); her forcible marriage to Ali, one of her interrogators (her wedding -night rape graphically described); how Ali died and she lost their baby when assassins opened fire on them one night; how she escaped Iran for a new life in suburban Toronto. For two decades Nemat remained silent about her two years in Evin: her family didn't ask and she didn't tell, not until after her mother died in 2000, never having known her daughter's experiences. That galvanized Nemat to write her story, in an effort to quiet her demons and regain her life.

And it worked. For a while. After Tehran is Nemat's after-story: if her first book recounts her ordeal, the second counts the cost of telling about it. Once her memoir was accepted by her publisher, Nemat writes in her second volume, she had no idea what to do next, or even 'what next meant exactly: I somehow believed that I was supposed to die the day I signed the contract.' But the past wasn't done with her. As reaction to the memoir unfolded, Nemat had to cope with the responses of her family. Ghosts were resurfacing everywhere, some of them old friends she had thought dead, others fellow Evin survivors who decried her as a traitor who had literally slept with the enemy. Images of the baby she lost--that half wanted, half abhorred child--came to her mind, and when she heard a rumour that Ali was still alive, Nemat writes, "my world collapsed." So she turned to writing, as she had before, to stitch her life back together, in an account as graceful, honest, and revelatory as her original. –Brian Bethune, MacLean's Magazine

“Nemat’s story…is a memoir of faith and love, a protest against violence that cannot be silenced.” –The Christian Science Monitor

“…Prisoner of Tehran is an extraordinary story of survival and how one woman finally found inner peace through the written word.” –Entertainment Weekly

“This powerful memoir examines Nemat’s struggle to forgive those who beat her and sentenced her to death at 16 for speaking against her government.”  – Newsweek

“With Prisoner of Tehran, she (Marina Nemat) has accomplished her admirable goal (of lending a voice to Iran’s political prisoners.) –Miami Herald

“Nemat offers her arresting, heartbreaking story of forgiveness, hope and enduring love—a voice for the untold scores silenced by Iran's revolution.” –Publishers’ Weekly (starred review)

Prisoner of Tehran is a gripping personal history…important and chillingly universal…” –New York Times

“…Gripping, elegantly written memoir…masterly…” –The Wall Street Journal

“…Filled with enduring images…” –Calgary Herald

“…Marina Nemat’s beautiful book is a confession born out of the tradition of St. Augustine…breathtakingly real. It is an act of bravery, this book, as well as compassion…well wrought and heartfelt…” –The Globe and Mail

“Her Story is unforgettable.” –Vogue

“…the story of her journey to freedom is extraordinary…Nemat believes it is important to make history personal…Nemat’s story is a complex mixture of light and darkness, love and violence -- of human paradoxes that defy simplistic labels of good and evil.” –Leigh Anne Williams, Quill and Quire

“Immediate and visceral” –Quill and Quire

“…Nemat tells her story without messages and with no sense of heroism …terrifying drama…” –Booklist (starred review)

“…heartbreaking memoir…” –The Ottawa Citizen

Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir is an inspiration.” –The Toronto Star

“Nemat’s story is a page-turner…a book which bears witness, which serves as a prism through which the experiences of a horrific past are viewed from a later calmer perspective. The memoir, a catharsis for Nemat, is a revelation for the reader, a moving and thoughtful book few will want to miss.” –The London Free Press

…Prisoner of Tehran is one of the finest (memoirs) ever written by a Canadian. Nemat’s heartrending account of her time in an Iranian prison touches on some large issues, particularly the power of religious fanaticism to lead good people to do evil acts. But the memoir’s brilliance and grace lie more in its intimate scale, in the way it deals with the burden of memory, the need to bear witness and the strange byways of the human heart. But before all else, Prisoner of Tehran is simply an astonishing story.” –Brian Bethune, MacLean’s Magazine

“You will start this book and finish it in one reading. It is impossible to put down.” –Heather Reisman, CEO, Indigo Books

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