First there was the Shah’s dictatorship, then that of Khomeini and the mullahs. Iran has been suffering for a long time. The totalitarian theocracy has executed over 120,000 of the opposition.
Azam was a young Iranian girl who grew up in the poor quarters of Tehran. Her father, as a supporter of the mullahs, did not think she should attend school. Her mother supported her educational ambitions however and she eventually attained her baccalaureate. At 13 she had to fight to escape a forced marriage to a mullah. Her father used to hit her for her disobedience.
In 1978 revolution broke out and the Shah was deposed. Azam was 20. She escaped and discovered the People’s Mojahedin, who favoured a democratic and tolerant Iran. She became friendly with other thoughtful women and attended demonstrations.
Khomeini’s Islamic revolutionary guards hunted her down for this and she was imprisoned for over five years. Eight months of the sentence were spent crouched in a cage, blindfolded. In 1988, 30,000 political prisoners were executed in these prisons. Azam very bravely held out.
A work of literary merit this book is not. The translation – from (Persian?) is attributed to a Carolyne Beckingham, but this lady does not have a good grasp of idiomatic English. So we read the bare and horrific bones, as it were but I think useful nuances are missing. The blurb claims the account is painful and captivating. Painful yes, and gripping – but captivating definitely not.
This book should not only be read for its account of heroic resistance to religious and political intolerance but widely publicised.