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Summary

Los Angeles Times best seller

A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who defied society's expectations to find her voice and her destiny

"A complex and beautiful rendering of [a] vanished country and its scattered people, a reminder of the power and purpose of art, and an ode to female creativity under a patriarchy that repeatedly tries to snuff it out." [The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)]

All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh Farrokhzad is told that Persian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel - gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother's walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. During the summer of 1950, Forugh's passion for poetry takes flight - and tradition seeks to clip her wings.

Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh's poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules - at enormous cost. But the power of her writing only grows stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.

Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad's verse, letters, films, and interviews - and including original translations of her poems - this haunting novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran - and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

Praise for Song of a Captive Bird:

"Forugh Farrokhzad's short life brimmed with controversy and rebellion.... This feminist icon inspired Darznik's imaginative debut." (Ms.

©2018 Jasmin Darznik (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“If poetry is emotion rendered incendiary, then Forugh Farrokhzad was made of fire.... Song of a Captive Bird is an unsparing account of the necessity and consequences of speaking out.” (BookPage)

“A stunning and powerful debut... At a time when our country is at war with art and women, this courageous book is required reading.” (Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This)

“A thrilling and provocative portrait of a powerful woman set against a sweeping panorama of Iranian history.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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  • Susan
  • 25-06-18

I really wanted to love this book, but...

Dapznik is a gifted writer--particularly her ability to describe. But what she was unable to do for me was create a character I loved and was able to root for. So many terrible things happened to the main character, but I wasn't drawn in to the emotion. Same with the plot. At one point she was in a terrible bind and her car was cut off by police and the very next sentence was "In jail I had a lot of time to think." She skipped entirely something that would have created sympathy and understanding for the character. I ended up simply quiting half way through the last chapter. I just didn't care.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen Lutsky
  • 02-10-18

A woman we should all know about

In light of the persecution of women in many places in the world, the experiences of Forugh Farrokhzad, although well researched but fictionalized in this novel, was sad and inspiring. I was unfamiliar with her poetry and her struggles to be free prior to reading the novel. I'm so glad I spent time learning more about her. This book was well written.

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  • Mani
  • 03-06-18

Captivating

I was mesmerized by this book; at times a biography; at times a novel; always respectful of the legacy of Forough Farrokhzad. I was unaware of most of the story, having moved to Iran at the young age of two in 1964. We lived in the small oil town of Masjid-I-Sulayman until we moved to Tehran in 1968, after Forough’s death. I had met the author Jasmin in Northern CA at a conference for Iranian Women. That’s where I bought the hardcover book, to support a fellow artistic Iranian-American woman (I’m a female Iranian-American architect). Now after hearing the audible book, I have such a tremendous understanding of our home country, the limitations under which Forough was raised, the reasons for her rebellion and the impact she left on the future generations of women; not only for her poetry and films, but mostly from this book, I truly understood the woman Forough. The narrator was very familiar with Persian terminology and kept a steady voice throughout, whether reading about a passionate love scene, a scary encounter, a heart wrenching moment or a confused mind. Even though I grew up in Iran for 15 years of my life, there’s so much I didn’t know until I read this book. Thank you Jasmin for opening our hearts by sharing this daring story with us.

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  • Shane
  • 27-05-18

EXCELLENT!

This is an outstanding and thoughtfully written novel about a lonely, troubled, wonderful poet! Drawn from the poet's own words and experiences, this book evokes Iran during a very volatile time in its history! That's all I will say, just read it!

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  • Lisa H
  • 09-05-18

A Mesmerizing Story

Song of a Captive Bird
Jasmin Darznik

A mesmerizing story of a brave woman seeking the freedom and independence to write heartfelt and brilliant poetry

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
SUMMARY
Song of a Captive Bird is a fictional account of Iran’s most infamous and iconic woman poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. She was a literary sensation, and acclaimed filmmaker, who was both loved and hated within her country. A country she loved and would never leave. The book follows her turbulent life, from her controlled and abusive childhood, though her oppressive teenage marriage, the birth of her son, her passionate literary career, her affairs of the heart and her death in a car crash in 1967. Forugh came of age in the 1940’s and 1950’s, at a time of upheaval in Iranian history.

The novels opens one morning, with her mother forcing a bruised and battered Forugh to a clinic in the poorest and dirtiest district of Tehran, the bottom of the city, for a virginity test. It’s an experience which leaves the sixteen-year-old Forugh shaken and forever changed. ‘It was the end of her girlhood and the true beginning of her life’. She begins writing poetry to capture her father’s attention, who at first is amused by his daughters efforts. But as Forugh continues writing her black-eyed father withdraws his support, and he marries her off to Parviz, who rejects her on their wedding night. She is unhappy in the marriage, and in living under the roof of her domineering mother-in-law. Shortly after her son is born she sneaks back to Tehran in an naive effort to have her sensuous poetry published. Her first poem “Sin” is published under her own name, which set off an avalanche of life altering events.

“When I left my father and then my husband I lost my name and I was no one. But there was freedom in this, to be a woman on my own, it made me strong and it made me the poet I wanted to be. I knew many poets whose lives have nothing to do with their poetry. They were only poets when they sat down to write. They would finish a poem and then turn back into greedy, shortsighted, miserable, envious people. Well I could never believe in their poetry because I could never believe in them.”

REVIEW
Forugh’s character was so well-developed that you can’t help but have empathy for her. You could feel the pain from her father’s kicks, you can feel her dank and sweaty sheets in the hospital, and you could feel her heart racing as she ran from the machine gun spray. This story of Forugh’s quest for independence is both breathtaking and admirable. The writing is beautifully lyrical and captivatingly descriptive. It is a breathless ride that skillfully transports us not only through the story, but specifically to that time in history, and to a house in Tehran with a garden full of lush roses, jasmine, honeysuckle, and dahlia blossoms.

Lovers of feminist, literary and historical fiction will appreciate this book about a female poet whose name in Persian means ‘eternal light.’ The author, Jasmin Darznik used Forugh’s poetry, letters and films to create this powerful fictional account of a rebellious but brave woman. Darznik is a professor of English and creative writing at California College of the Arts. She came to America from Iran in 1978 when she was three years old. She is also the author of The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Publisher Ballantine. Publication Date February 13, 2018.

“ Remember its flight, for the bird is mortal.” Forugh Farrokhazd