If you like memoirs I think you will really like Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik. This is the story of Iranian feminist poet Forugh Farrokhzhad. Though the character of Forugh is based on an actual woman who lived in Iran from about 1935-1967, the novel is fiction. We learn about Forugh, who she is, how she came to be a poet and also a filmmaker during a time and place when women had no rights or privileges. During the lifetime of Forugh women had very limited rights. They didn’t receive much of an education and could rarely leave their homes. They went from being the property of their father to that of their husbands. Throughout the story we learn of Forugh’s successes and her sacrifices and disappointments. We follow her life from the time she is a child until her death and with the first person narrative we get a glimpse into how she felt.
I really enjoyed learning more about Iran and I loved the way Darznik describes Iran. I could often picture the vastness of gray and brown and the occasional turquoise domes of a mosque. I loved learning more about the culture of Iran and came to a better understanding of its history. I think the setting was what I enjoyed the most.
Song of a Captive Bird is told in first person narrative and I felt it read like a memoir. I think a lot of people will really like that writing style. I often have trouble with memoirs. I feel like the author often tries to justify the choices they make or try to get me to agree. I got frustrated during this book because I felt that Forugh was often justifying the choices she made. While I admire Forugh for the things she was able to accomplish in her life and for her desire for women to be treated as human beings and while I could understand and sympathize with some of the horrible things she might have gone through, I did not like Forugh. I felt she was selfish, self-centered and didn’t seem capable or even willing to look at how other people felt. I felt she was more concerned with how she felt then how others might feel or how her actions effect not only her but also others.
I thought a really interesting part of the novel was the author, Darznik, included Forugh’s actual poems throughout the book. I did love reading her poems and reading of possible scenarios as to how the ideas for the poem came to be.
I think if you are someone who does enjoy memoirs you will really like Song of a Captive Bird. It isn’t often we read of women in Iran.
My copy of Song of a Captive Bird was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!