Marina Nemat

Marina Nemat

Marina Nemat's memoir Prisoner of Tehran is being defended by Arlene Dickinson in the Canada Reads 2012 debates.

Born in Tehran, Marina Nemat grew up Russian Orthodox in Iran and was in high school when the Shah was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini. She was outspoken in opposing the regime's policies and at the age of 16, was arrested and thrown into Evin, Iran's notorious political prison. During her incarceration, she was tortured and narrowly escaped being executed -- her life was spared only because one of the prison's guards fell in love with her and forced her to convert to Islam and marry him, threatening to harm her family if she refused. Because of his efforts, she was finally released from prison. After the guard was assassinated by a rival group of guards, Nemat married her teenage love and they fled to Canada in 1991.

In Canada, Nemat worked at Swiss Chalet while secretly writing her harrowing life story as a therapeutic diary. Her life changed completely when her memoir was published: it became an international bestseller and suddenly she was flying around the world for readings and speaking engagements. In 2007, she was awarded the European Parliament's inaugural Human Dignity Prize, which honours "organizations and individuals working for a world free from intolerance and social injustice, a world where fundamental human rights are respected."

Nemat followed up Prisoner of Tehran with the equally successful After Tehran, which chronicles her life in Canada. She is currently teaching a creative writing course in Farsi at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies.

Listen to Marina Nemat read an excerpt from Prisoner of Tehran here.

Get to know Marina Nemat by watching our video chat here.

Listen to Marina Nemats's interview on The Next Chapter here.

Read Marina Nemat's blog post about speaking out here.

See Marina Nemat's playlist for Prisoner of Tehran here.

Replay our live chat with Marina Nemat here.

Read about Prisoner of Tehran: The Play in our Q&A with writer/director Maja Ardal here.