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GHOSTS OF REVOLUTION by Shahla Talebi

GHOSTS OF REVOLUTION

Rekindled Memories of Imprisonment in Iran

By Shahla Talebi (Author) , Soudabeh Ardavan (Illustrator)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8047-7201-3
Publisher: Stanford Univ.

An Iranian political activist presents a trenchant, poised memoir of her horrific periods of incarceration in Iran.

Arrested first in 1977 by SAVAK agents under the Shah’s repressive regime, then again in 1983 in Tehran and held for nine years in the infamous Evin Prison, Talebi (Religious Studies/Arizona State Univ.) endured searing trauma during this tumultuous era of Iranian history. In her frank memoir that reads all the more affectingly because of its tone of matter-of-fact testimony, she dredges up painful memories of torture, solitary confinement, ritual humiliation and forced confessions, and offers portrayals of fellow inmates who either escaped into madness or were executed, such as her husband, Hamid. The author is determined to honor these “ghosts”—“I did not submit, nor did I go crazy, but I felt the burden and the responsibility of giving voice to those who were, in one way or another, lost.” Having grown up mostly in the provinces, and just entering her first year of college in Tehran, Talebi was a naïve political activist in 1977, determined to uphold her ideals of justice.  After her arrest, she was held for a year and then released in 1978, as part of the country’s “roaring rivers” of demonstrations and demands against the Shah. Her longer stint of incarceration, between 1983 and 1992, warrants the balk of this account, and it is a period that included the machinations of the Islamic Republic and the massacre of 5,000 political prisoners in 1988. The new penal policy extracted denunciations of prisoners’ past activities and negotiations by their families, both of which Talebi rejected. She writes movingly of brutalized inmates like Roya, Fozi and Kobra, and especially Hamid, who was tortured in front of her and later executed. After her release, Talebi would have to answer her relatives’ harmful accusations of not doing enough to save her husband.

Nearly unbearable revelations by a brave writer determined to embrace life rather than despair.