Friday, July 30, 2010

Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran by Roxana Saberi

I found Roxana Saberi’s frightening account of her imprisonment in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison disturbing but also inspiring. After finishing the book, I was left wondering how I would handle such a horrendous ordeal, would I fare as well under similar psychological duress? Saberi, half-Japanese and half-Iranian, is a journalist who grew up in North Dakota. She longed to visit Iran to learn about her father’s homeland. In 2003 she moved to Tehran, eventually developing a deep affinity for the country and its people. She ended up staying longer with the intention of writing a book. Saberi conducted interviews with Iranians from all segments of society while unaware of being under surveillance. Then in early 2009 she was arrested, completely taken by surprise.

I got caught up in Saberi’s story as she vividly described in detail her 100-day nightmare in prison. Accused of espionage, held for days in solitary confinement and forced to endure horrific interrogations, she was denied a lawyer and contact with her family for several weeks. I was touched by the honest description of her struggle with the guilt of making a false confession, which she eventually recanted. And I was also deeply affected by the moving and impassioned stories she shared of her fellow women prisoners held captive as a result of their activities regarding human rights and freedom of religion and speech. To add interest to her story, Saberi interlaced insights into Iranian society and the Islamic leadership. Definitely a good book if you want a better understanding of a country we generally know very little about other than from soundbites heard on the news.

Look for Between Two Worlds by Roxana Saberi on the VBPL catalog. I would like to suggest a another excellent book authored by Iranian American, Azadeh Moaveni, Honeymoon in Tehran.

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