SONG OF A CAPTIVE BIRD by Jasmin Darznik


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Unclean, unholy, immodest, disruptive—Forugh Farrokhzad endures the scorn of her family and society to become one of Iran’s most prominent poets and a film director in this debut novel based on her real life.

From the rise of the repressive Pahlavi dynasty to the 1953 coup bringing Mosaddegh to power, martial law in 1979 , and the beginnings of revolution, Darznik (The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life, 2011) weaves remnants of Forugh’s real poetry through this bewitching tale of a woman transcending the strictures of a patriarchal society. There is no shortage of villains, including her domineering and abusive father, who insisted that even his children call him The Colonel. The novel opens with a troubling scene, as Forugh’s mother ushers her to the shabby outskirts of Tehran to determine whether she is still a virgin. The virginity test comes like a rape to Forugh, leaving her shaken and setting the stage for disaster. Constantly seeking a way to play on the same field as men, Forugh discovers poetry, and her first poem commands even The Colonel’s attention. Once her passion begins to show, however, his support abruptly ends, and her parents arrange a marriage to Parviz, who turns cold on their wedding night, rejecting her after seeing no blood on their sheets. A year later, stifled by her mother-in-law and disappointed in her husband, Forugh sneaks off to Tehran to find a publisher for her poetry, Nasser Khodayar, who becomes her lover as well. Recklessly publishing her first poem, “Sin,” under her own name, Forugh sets in motion a cascade of events that will lead her to become an independent artist. But the path is long and twists through a mental asylum and divorce as well as the highs of love and showing her first documentary and the lows of social humiliations and prison.

A thrilling and provocative portrait of a powerful woman set against a sweeping panorama of Iranian history.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-18231-0
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2017


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