Book Review: Song of a Captive Bird

Song of a Captive Bird

A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing poet Forugh Farrokhzhad, who defied Iranian society to find her voice and her destiny

“Remember the flight, for the bird is mortal.”—Forugh Farrokhzad

All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh is told that Iranian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. It’s during the summer of 1950 that Forugh’s passion for poetry really takes flight—and that tradition seeks to clip her wings.

Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing grows only stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.

Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—Jasmin Darznik has written a haunting novel, using the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

Review:

This is a fascinating and well researched book about the Iranian poet Forugh Forrokzad. She wrote primarily in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and was a pivotal part of the feminist movement in Iran at that time.

I loved learning about this amazing historical figure who I had not even heard of before and getting a sense of what life was like for a woman in Iran at the time. Forrokzad was a formidable woman who refused to conform to the norms of society, and who followed her own path, doing what she thought was right for herself.

As you can imagine, Forrokzad had huge hurtles to overcome and backlash to contend with. However, these things did not deter her from forging ahead with her poetry and politics, even at great personal cost.

Darzink has done an impressive job researching Forrokzad, going so far as to translate her poetry herself into English. The story is fictionalized, but is still compelling. I did feel that the storytelling could have been more personal and a little less “telling” what went on. Still, I was caught up in the story and in Forrokzad, anxious to turn the pages to see how her life would unfold. Darzink has done an impressive job of bringing an interesting and turbulent time in history to life and of introducing a formidable poet to many of us who may never heard of her before.

 

Note: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Free Prophecy Colouring Pages

I was playing around on my computer and figured out how to make the cover of my book, Prophecy, into a colouring page. In fact, several colouring pages. Here they are, so feel free to download. The reason that there are several is because of Antigone’s hair — in most of my attempts to make a colouring page, her hair just turns into a big white area. So I had an idea. I ran the cover through several different filters on a free app called Dreamscope (completely addictive, by the way), until I found some likely results. Then I took that image and ran it through another free program called Rapid Resizer that has a Free Picture Stencil Maker. This is what I came up with!

 

And, just for fun, I found a few images related to my book and made those into colouring pages too.

Here is King Oedipus contemplating the Sphinx’s riddle:

Here is Antigone and her sister, Ismene:

And here is Antigone with her father, Oedipus:

If anyone else tries this, I’d love to see the results, along with any completed colouring projects.

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Prophecy on Sale

Happy Canada Day!!

Summer’s here and if you are looking for some great things to read, Smashwords is having a huge summer sale. My book, Prophecy, will be on for 50% off for the entire month of July. All you need to do is go to Smashwords by clicking here and use the coupon code SSW50 at the check out. For those of you who don’t know, Smashwords is an online distributor of ebooks. It is free to join and you can download in the format of your choice. While you’re there, be sure to check out all of the great books on sale.

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Summer Newsletter & Sale

Hello Everyone,

I know it’s been a little while, but the end of the school year caught up with me. I was also getting ready to sell my book and some felting I’ve been working on at our local Art in the Park — an annual event here in Kamloops on Canada Day. It was super fun. Here’s a picture from my booth.

Working on Betrayed

As much as I love Antigone, I am finding that I need a break from her, so I am going to spend the next little while working on another novel I have in the works called Betrayed (working title). This one is most definitely aimed at adults and is about Clytemnestra, who is the sister of Helen of Troy and was married to Agamemnon (the leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War). She’s an interesting character who is villianized in most of ancient literature because she took a consort while her husband was away at the Trojan War, then killed him upon his return. But, she does have her reasons… Her story has a lot of fantastic avenues to explore. Read more

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