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Song of a Captive Bird

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new york times book review editors' choice

Los Angeles Times Bestseller

Winner of the writer's center first novel prize
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"Enthralling and illuminating.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)

"Readers can’t seem to get enough of fictional biography, and this first novel from [Darznik] is a poignant, mesmerizing addition to the genre.”—Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Song of a Captive Bird an unsparing account of the necessity and consequences of speaking out.”
-BookPage

All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh Farrokhzad is told that Persian 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. During the summer of 1950, Forugh’s passion for poetry takes flight—and 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 only grows 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—this haunting novel uses 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.


About Song of a Captive Bird

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Only Voice Remains

Award-winning documentary about Forugh

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the new york times

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Reviews

Praise for Song of a Captive Bird

Media

“Darznik’s knowledgeably invented characters and compellingly imagined scenarios, both of which are sensuous and harrowing, are deftly set within Iran’s political and social upheavals, and stay true to the essence of Farrokhzad’s audacious, dramatic, and creative life. . .Enthralling and illuminating.”
-Booklist (Starred Review)

“In this sumptuous debut novel, Darznik’s marvelous homage to Forugh captures the frustration and determination she must have felt to overcome the strictures of her environment, beautifully recreating her difficult path to fame.”
—Publishers Weekly


“From the rise of the repressive Pahlavi dynasty to the 1953 coup bringing Mosaddegh to power, martial law in 1979, and the beginnings of revolution, Darznik weaves remnants of Forugh’s real poetry through this bewitching tale of a woman transcending the strictures of a patriarchal society…A thrilling and provocative portrait of a powerful woman set against a sweeping panorama of Iranian history.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Forugh Farrokhzad’s short life brimmed with controversy and rebellion. This feminist icon inspired Darznik’s imaginative debut novel, the story of a gifted iconoclast defying gender expectations in mid-20th-century Iran.”
–MS Magazine

“Darznik captures Forugh’s remarkable bravery and tenacity as she pursues her dream of becoming a published author and documentary filmmaker…Readers can’t seem to get enough of fictional biography, and this first novel from [Darznik] is a poignant, mesmerizing addition to the genre.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Song of a Captive Bird is a stunning and powerful debut. With rich empathy and gorgeous prose,Jasmin Darznik breathes life into one of Iran’s most iconic women, and the result is a beautiful novel that is as compelling as it is necessary. Darznik captures both the restless individuality of the poet’s soul and the unremitting vitality of poetry itself. At a time when our country is at war with art and women, this courageous book is required reading.”
Bret Anthony Johnston,
author of Remember Me Like This




“Song of a Captive Bird an unsparing account of the necessity and consequences of speaking out.”
-BookPage

“Masterfully researched and smartly constructed, Darznik brings Forugh Farrokhzad to life as she captures the poet in all her manifestations: the troubled girlhood and failed marriage, the search for self and the discovery of voice, all against the backdrop of a changing, turbulent and volatile Iran. These are times for stories that bring one culture nearer to another and that is exactly what Darznik has done, pulling close the ears and hearts of girls and women and poets to tell Farrokhzad’s remarkable story.”
Laleh Khadivi, author of A Good Country

“A beautiful writer! In elegant, intimate prose Jasmin Darznik portrays pre-Revolutionary Iran and a woman who transcended the prejudices of her time.”
— Susan Cheever, author of E.E.Cummings: A Life

“Jasmin Darznik’s moving portrait of Forugh Farrokhzad does true justice to the brave voice of a poet, beloved by generations of Iranians, whose work should be better known. Alive and sensuous, Darznik’s prose mirrors Forugh’s poetry, making no separation between life and work, leaving open and unguarded that door we so often find closed.”
Donia Bijan, author of The Last Days of Cafe Leila