Terry Fallis discusses Prisoner of Tehran on Here and Now

Our resident blogger is now a radio star! Every Wednesday until the Canada Reads debates, Terry Fallis is stopping by Here and Now Toronto to discuss the final five books.

This week, Terry talked about Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat with Here and Now host Laura Di Battista. Listen to their complete conversation in the audio player below.

Download Flash Player to view this content.


Marina was a regular teenage girl, growing up in Tehran, Iran. She liked boys and the Bee Gees and wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. But that all changed shortly after after the Islamic Revolution ousted the Shah, and the Ayatollah Khomeini became Supreme Leader of Iran.

Marina spoke out against the fundamentalist regime -- and paid the price.

Marina complained that her calculus teacher should teach calculus instead of government propaganda. Her teacher told her she could leave the class if she liked. And Marina did, along with most of the other students. They stayed out for several days, and Marina was seen as a leader of the strike.

Not long after that incident, in January 1982, she was arrested and taken to Evin Prison, where political prisoners were held. She was just 16 years old at the time of her arrest. Marina spent more than two years in prison. She was tortured and narrowly escaped being executed. Marina describes her experiences in her 2007 memoir, Prisoner of Tehran.

Terry was stunned by Marina's experience. "It boggles the mind what she went through," he says. However, he also found inspiration in her journey. "It was a reminder to me about the human capacity to endure and eventually overcome."

However, Terry was appreciative of the structure Marina gave the story, alternating between her time in Evin and happier times with her friends family in her younger years. "It gives the reader a bit of relief from the unending tension."

Terry's fingers were flying through the pages, and he thinks even though Marina was in prison over 20 years ago, he thinks Prisoner of Tehran is as important and relevant as ever.

"It represented the fate of so many people around the world," he says. "Her story is freighted with the stories of others who have been silenced and will never be able to write their stories. It is her story, yet it reflects the story of so many."

Want more of Terry's thoughts about Prisoner of Tehran and its chances to win the Canada Reads crown? Check out his blog post about Marina's book.

Comments are closed.