Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat is being championed by Arlene Dickinson for Canada Reads 2012.
Marina Nemat grew up a Russian Orthodox Christian in mainly Muslim Iran. She was a high school student in Tehran when the Islamic Revolution took power, in 1979. Three years later, at the age of 16, she was arrested for speaking out against the regime and thrown into the country's most notorious political prison, where she was tortured and narrowly escaped execution. Prisoner of Tehran is Nemat's candid account of her ordeal.
Through the intervention of a prison guard who fell in love with her, Nemat's death sentence was commuted to life in prison. He pressured her to convert to Islam and marry him, threatening to harm her family if she refused. He also worked for her release, and Nemat was eventually freed -- but delivered into forced marriage to the guard. Soon after he was assassinated, and Nemat was once again imprisoned. She was finally released for once and for all because of the efforts of the guard's family. Nemat subsequently married the man who had been her teenage sweetheart, and they escaped to Canada in 1991. Nemat's extraordinary tale of survival and recovery catapulted her from working at a local Swiss Chalet to touring the world as a renowned writer and sought-after speaker on human rights. An international bestseller, Prisoner of Tehran was longlisted for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, and won the prestigious Italian literary prize the Grinzane Award.