Review: Song of a Captive Bird

by Jasmin Darznik
(Random House/Ballantine, 2018)

This novel drops readers into a hidden world. We follow the fictionalized life of Forugh Farrokhzad, one of Iran's great female poets, who lived from 1936-1967. These were decades of immense political and cultural upheavals. Exploring the artistic struggles of one young woman in context creates a fascinating, page-turning tension. "An Iranian daughter is taught to be quiet and meek, but from earliest childhood I was stubborn, noisy, and brash."

Indeed, Forugh has inherited a legacy of sorrows and gender-determined power struggles, not the least of which she witnesses in the home. Forugh's father "The Colonel" worked for the government. Her mother is described thus: "Unveiled, corseted, and lipsticked though she was, my mother's life would always be a prayer rug spread at the altar of fear.”

Iraninan American author Jasmin Darznik's  fabulous storytelling skills, sensory descriptions, and attention to historical detail reveal a complex female character coming of age and making impossible choices in life and love. Written with a first-person point of view, Song of a Captive Bird resonates like an intimate conversation with a close friend. Will appeal to fans of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis or Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. Also recommended to readers yearning to learn more about 20th Century Iran. This book does much to applaud the poet's role in politicial and cultural resistance.

This review is based on an ARC from NetGalley. Author Jasmin Darznik and the publishers have created a marvelous book club supplement available here.


Song of a Captive Bird Cover.jpg
Karen Lewis