Canada Reads·Canadian

Prisoner of Tehran

Marina Nemat recounts being arrested by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and tortured in Tehran's notorious Evin prison when she was just 16.

Marina Nemat

In January 1982, Marina Nemat, then just 16, was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death for political crimes. Up to that point, her life in Tehran had centred around school, summer parties at the lake and her crush on Andre, the young man she had met at church. But when math and history were subordinated to the study of the Koran and political propaganda, Marina protested. Her teacher replied, "If you don't like it, leave." She did, and, to her surprise, other students followed.

Soon she was arrested, along with hundreds of other youths who had dared to speak out, and they were taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. In Prisoner of Tehran, Marina tells the story of her incarceration and the remarkable turn of events that led to the commuting of her death sentence and to her eventual release.

Prisoner of Tehran was a contender for Canada Reads 2012. It was championed by Arlene Dickinson.

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From the book

"Why doesn't anyone ask me anything about the last two years?" I asked her. "The answer is very simple. We're afraid to ask because we're afraid of knowing... Maybe if we don't talk about it, and maybe if we pretend it never happened, it will be forgotten."


From Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat ©2007. Published by Viking/Penguin Canada.

Author interviews

Canada Reads nominee Marina Nemat on The Next Chapter 13:05
When Marina Nemat was 16 she was arrested at gunpoint and sentenced to life in Iran's most notorious prison. She now lives just north of Toronto, and argues that the best way to combat evil in the world is through small acts of kindness. 54:00

More about this book