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 FarrokhzadAll 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...

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Title:Song of a Captive Bird
Author:Jasmin Darznik
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Song of a Captive Bird Reviews

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

    The author of Song of a Captive Bird, Jasmin Darznik, is an Iranian-American whose family fled Iran prior to the revolution. Darznik is now a literature professor and spent years researching Forugh’s life. Everything about this book is immaculate. The smooth writing, the on point characterization, the research; it’s all top shelf. Iran in the 1950s and 60s came to l

    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

    The author of Song of a Captive Bird, Jasmin Darznik, is an Iranian-American whose family fled Iran prior to the revolution. Darznik is now a literature professor and spent years researching Forugh’s life. Everything about this book is immaculate. The smooth writing, the on point characterization, the research; it’s all top shelf. Iran in the 1950s and 60s came to life for me; gorgeous settings, interesting culture, and captivating people.

    Forugh’s story, her life, left an indelible mark on me. Starting with her childhood, we learn that Forugh was expected to be quiet and modest; however, she questioned authority, social mores, the status of women, the roles of women, all starting at a young age. Each time she embraced a challenge head-on, she was pushed back, pushed down, even held captive; but every single time, she rose again.

    In my lifetime, I’m not sure I’ve heard of a female poet being less than and referred to as a poetess? That was the life and time that Forugh lived in. Her biggest wish was to be referred to simply as a “poet.” Forugh was creative, resilient, vibrant, and vital in pushing forward women’s rights and human rights in her country. Song of a Captive Bird is the perfect title for this book in multiple ways. Oh what an alluring voice Forugh had to share with the world!

    Historical fiction fans, Song of a Captive Bird gets my highest recommendation!

    Thank you to Jasmin Darznik, the most generous Random House/Ballantine, and Netgalley for the complimentary copy.

  • Liz

    Iran in the mid 20th century was not a fun place to be a woman. A girl’s education stopped when she was fourteen. A lack of virginal blood on a wedding night could send a bride into banishment. And a girl was forbidden from being outside without a chaperone and it was frowned on for a married woman to be in public unattended. Everything revolves around a woman’s honor. “Mine was a country where they said a woman’s nature is riddled with sin, where they claimed that women’s voices had the power t

    Iran in the mid 20th century was not a fun place to be a woman. A girl’s education stopped when she was fourteen. A lack of virginal blood on a wedding night could send a bride into banishment. And a girl was forbidden from being outside without a chaperone and it was frowned on for a married woman to be in public unattended. Everything revolves around a woman’s honor. “Mine was a country where they said a woman’s nature is riddled with sin, where they claimed that women’s voices had the power to drive men to lust and distract them from matters of both heaven and earth.”

    Forugh Farroukhzad was a poet during this time and considered one of the first Iranian feminists. Poetry held a special place in Iran. Men would recite it over coffee at night and poets were held in high esteem. Well, male poets. “There was a strict division between a poet and a poetess. No matter how skillful her writing, a woman was invariably given the feminine moniker.” And that moniker was always defined as something less, something trite.

    This fictional telling of her short life is a slow burn. Starting with her childhood, she takes up writing poetry to impress her father. Her mother is convinced she’s possessed by a jinn. Her marriage is a disaster and she rediscovers poetry. Her decisions give her the freedom to write but at a terrific cost.

    Darznik does an amazing job telling the story. Never once did I feel I was hearing anything other than Forugh’s voice. I felt her fear, her despair and her anger.

    This is a book that will make you angry. I mean really angry. Imagine being told you have to stop yourself from thinking, because it’s thinking that has made you insane. Even the so called “liberal” men sought to take advantage of her and screw her over.

    As the book progresses it becomes more political concerning the regime.

    This is a strong book, but a sad one. The addition of Forugh’s actual poetry was a huge plus. For anyone that appreciates historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.

    My thanks to netgalley and Random House/Ballantine Books for an advance copy of this book.

  • Elyse

    Audiobook....narrated by Mozhan Marno 5++++stars!!!!!

    LOVED IT!

    ABSOLUTELY MESMERIZING!!!

    GORGEOUS PROSE!!!

    BEAUTIFUL NOVEL!!! ......Historical Fiction doesn’t get much better!!!

    ......this is a fascinating story about a powerhouse Iranian woman - poet and filmmaker - who died much too young.

    Author Jasmin Darznik’s impeccable research shows...its ‘clear’ the work she put into this novel. History in Iran came alive.....before and after the revolution - Poety- literature - history-politics - Philoso

    Audiobook....narrated by Mozhan Marno 5++++stars!!!!!

    LOVED IT!

    ABSOLUTELY MESMERIZING!!!

    GORGEOUS PROSE!!!

    BEAUTIFUL NOVEL!!! ......Historical Fiction doesn’t get much better!!!

    ......this is a fascinating story about a powerhouse Iranian woman - poet and filmmaker - who died much too young.

    Author Jasmin Darznik’s impeccable research shows...its ‘clear’ the work she put into this novel. History in Iran came alive.....before and after the revolution - Poety- literature - history-politics - Philosophy- abuse- dialogue- the oppression- the setting - the flowers in the gardens - the characters —- EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS NOVEL HAS VIBRANCY!!!

    Forugh Farrokhzad was a disappointment to her mother....

    .....a disappointment to her father

    .....a disappointment to her husband

    .....a disappointment to her mother-in-law

    .....her controversial poetry became the center of negativity. More disapproval.

    .....Forugh fought her entire life for justice - self expression - human rights - dignity - and respect.

    Being a disappointment in the eyes of those around you - closest to you - people who are suppose to love you - time and time again - has got to be debilitating, exhausting, devastating, and forever lonely. Yet this woman kept getting right back up every time she was pushed down. The title of this book couldn’t be any more perfect.

    I felt empathy and admiration for Forugh. She wasn’t a woman to silence. She knew men had the freedom to express love....yet women were suppose to be modest, and quiet. In an oppressive society for women - being a bright liberated female took an ‘enormous’ amount of courage.

    FORUGH was daring - brave - courageous - referred to as a poetess- who wanted to be known as a POET!!

    There are specific brutal details you’ll read in these pages that are GUT WRENCHING.....

    REALLY could make you physically sick and angry. ——

    I have ‘my’ memories of Iran from when I visited in 1973...(Those were the good days)....and I thought OMG back ‘then’. I had no idea how much ‘more’ oppressive the country was about to come shorty after I left.

    I can’t recommend this book high enough ——-AND THE AUDIOBOOK— ‘PERFECT’!

    Held my interest completely!!!

  • Lisa

    A mesmerizing story of a brave woman seeking the freedom and independence to write heartfelt and brilliant poetry

    SUMMARY

    Song of a Captive Bird is a fictional account of Iran’s most infamous and iconic woman poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. She was a literary sensation, and acclaimed filmmaker, who was both loved and hated within her country. A country she loved and would never leave. The book follows her turbulent life, from her controlled and abusive childhood, though her oppressive teenage marriage, t

    A mesmerizing story of a brave woman seeking the freedom and independence to write heartfelt and brilliant poetry

    SUMMARY

    Song of a Captive Bird is a fictional account of Iran’s most infamous and iconic woman poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. She was a literary sensation, and acclaimed filmmaker, who was both loved and hated within her country. A country she loved and would never leave. The book follows her turbulent life, from her controlled and abusive childhood, though her oppressive teenage marriage, the birth of her son, her passionate literary career, her affairs of the heart and her death in a car crash in 1967. Forugh came of age in the 1940’s and 1950’s, at a time of upheaval in Iranian history.

    The novels opens one morning, with her mother forcing a bruised and battered Forugh to a clinic in the poorest and dirtiest district of Tehran, the bottom of the city, for a virginity test. It’s an experience which leaves the sixteen-year-old Forugh shaken and forever changed. ‘It was the end of her girlhood and the true beginning of her life’. She begins writing poetry to capture her father’s attention, who at first is amused by his daughters efforts. But as Forugh continues writing her black-eyed father withdraws his support, and he marries her off to Parviz, who rejects her on their wedding night. She is unhappy in the marriage, and in living under the roof of her domineering mother-in-law. Shortly after her son is born she sneaks back to Tehran in an naive effort to have her sensuous poetry published. Her first poem “Sin” is published under her own name, which set off an avalanche of life altering events.

    “When I left my father and then my husband I lost my name and I was no one. But there was freedom in this, to be a woman on my own, it made me strong and it made me the poet I wanted to be. I knew many poets whose lives have nothing to do with their poetry. They were only poets when they sat down to write. They would finish a poem and then turn back into greedy, shortsighted, miserable, envious people. Well I could never believe in their poetry because I could never believe in them.”

    REVIEW

    Forugh’s character was so well-developed that you can’t help but have empathy for her. You could feel the pain from her father’s kicks, you can feel her dank and sweaty sheets in the hospital, and you could feel her heart racing as she ran from the machine gun spray. This story of Forugh’s quest for independence is both breathtaking and admirable. The writing is beautifully lyrical and captivatingly descriptive. It is a breathless ride that skillfully transports us not only through the story, but specifically to that time in history, and to a house in Tehran with a garden full of lush roses, jasmine, honeysuckle, and dahlia blossoms.

    Lovers of feminist, literary and historical fiction will appreciate this book about a female poet whose name in Persian means ‘eternal light.’ The author, Jasmin Darznik used Forugh’s poetry, letters and films to create this powerful fictional account of a rebellious but brave woman. Darznik is a professor of English and creative writing at California College of the Arts. She came to America from Iran in 1978 when she was three years old. She is also the author of The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Publisher Ballantine. Publication Date February 13, 2018.

    “ Remember its flight, for the bird is mortal.” Forugh Farrokhazd

  • Jennifer Blankfein

    The beautiful cover of this powerful debut caught my eye and after perusing the summary on the book jacket I was compelled to read and recommend this to one of my book groups. We wanted to focus on strong women and Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik fits the bill!

    This story, based on the life of Forugh Farrokhzad, focuses on a young Iranian girl who as a child pushed the envelope when it came to respectable, traditional, female behavior. She had an interest in poetry, writing at eleven yea

    The beautiful cover of this powerful debut caught my eye and after perusing the summary on the book jacket I was compelled to read and recommend this to one of my book groups. We wanted to focus on strong women and Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik fits the bill!

    This story, based on the life of Forugh Farrokhzad, focuses on a young Iranian girl who as a child pushed the envelope when it came to respectable, traditional, female behavior. She had an interest in poetry, writing at eleven years old to get the attention of her strict father. She was lucky enough to find a friend she connected with who enjoyed the written word as well and she and this young boy secretly met and he exposed her to different writers, but the Iranian culture forbid them to socialize. Her parents locked her in small spaces as a punishment and due to her questionable behavior, they forced her to undergo a virginity test. At sixteen years old her father orchestrated an arranged marriage and the relationship suffered due to unsurmountable challenges. Forugh became a teenage mother, began a clandestine romantic relationship with a powerful man in the publishing business, ran away from her stifling marriage and toward freedom and self fulfillment.

    Forugh’s passion was to write, and when her provocative, expressive poetry was published, scandalous and smart written words by a woman… it caused a huge uproar. Her marriage had been damaged beyond repair, her parental rights were impacted, her love affair was not all she had hoped it would be, but her quest for independence and creative freedom remained her priority as she changed the world of poetry in Iran and became an icon for feminism.

    The title, Song of a Captive Bird, refers to Forugh; her poetry is her song and she endures feelings of being trapped by society and the rules preventing women to express themselves, as well as her marriage, relationship with her parents and her lovers, during the 1970s political resistance leading up to the revolution. But in some ways all the characters are like captive birds, trying to conform to societal rules in a suppressed society and being challenged by each other, yet also finding comfort in the confines of what is acceptable. Forugh gave up her marriage and family to find success as a poet, because in Iran she could not have it all.

    I loved this book along with all the others in my book group. Forugh was a strong, feisty woman living in the 1970s in Iran who was determined to share her creativity with the world, despite the backlash and outrage her poetry stirred up. Although throughout her short life she she didn’t conform to rules for females, cooking and motherhood were not her strong suits, she endured some horrible psychological and physical tortures, suffered unbearable heartbreaks, and many aspects of her life seemed like colossal failures, Forugh persevered and set the bar high when it came to freedom of expression, independence and rights for women.

    This book is historical fiction based on the incredible poetry and varied life experiences of controversial poet Forugh Farrokhzad whose life tragically ended at age 32. Author Jasmin Darznik draws you in from the very beginning and consistently shocks and amazes you with details of this extraordinary woman’s life, giving you incentive to do some googling! Fantastic debut novel!

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  • Fiona

    4.5 stars.

    Forugh Farrokhzad, known simply as Forugh, died in Iran 50 years ago aged 32. Her poetry was banned in Iran in 1979 and her grave is a place of pilgrimage still. At great personal cost, she broke down many barriers to pursue her art - cultural, social and structural. I had never heard of her and was attracted to the book mainly because I enjoy Middle Eastern writing. I don’t think I even realised that it was about a real person.

    Jasmin Darznik inhabits Forugh’s life so convincingly that

    4.5 stars.

    Forugh Farrokhzad, known simply as Forugh, died in Iran 50 years ago aged 32. Her poetry was banned in Iran in 1979 and her grave is a place of pilgrimage still. At great personal cost, she broke down many barriers to pursue her art - cultural, social and structural. I had never heard of her and was attracted to the book mainly because I enjoy Middle Eastern writing. I don’t think I even realised that it was about a real person.

    Jasmin Darznik inhabits Forugh’s life so convincingly that I often had to remind myself that I wasn’t reading an autobiography. By her own admission, she had to invent a great deal because, it is believed, Forugh’s family destroyed most of her personal papers after her death. Although she left Iran when she was 5, the author obviously has access to family and friends who can tell her what life was like during Forugh’s lifetime, ie 1935-1967. During this period, there was a lot of political turmoil in Iran and Forugh was often caught up in it. Her lifestyle was abhorrent to traditional Iranians and it wasn’t until she was in her 20s that she met likeminded people and saw a different side to life than the one in which she’d been trapped. A life that had more possibilities than restrictions. She was immensely brave, if sometimes naive, to make the decisions that she did and to risk so much.

    Forugh was also a talented documentary maker. I watched some of her film about a colony of lepers, The House is Black, on YouTube and found it very moving. The author has interspersed the text with poems that she herself has translated. On occasions her choice was perfect. Forugh’s poetry is based on her life. I’ll finish with a particularly poignant poem on the loss of her son.

    This is the last lullaby I’ll sing

    at the foot of your cradle.

    May my anguished cries

    echo in the sky of your youth....

    I’ve cast away from the shore of good name

    and a stormy star flares in my heart.....

    A day will come when your eyes

    will smart at this painful song.

    You’ll search for me in words

    and tell yourself: my mother,

    that’s who she was.

    From “A Poem for You” (dedicated to my son, Kamyar, with hopes for the future)

    If you read this book, you’ll understand the poignancy of this poem. A solid 4.5 stars from me.

    With thanks to NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine for a free review copy.

  • Brina

    Toward the end of last year I joined the moderator team of the group retro chapter chicks. We take part in a variety of historical fiction and nonfiction history group reads and discussions, and are given an occasional opportunity to review advance reader copies. One such book is Song of a Captive Bird, the debut novel by Jasmin Darznik, an Iranian American literature professor who resides in northern California. Although this book is slotted as a group read in a few months, I was drawn to the p

    Toward the end of last year I joined the moderator team of the group retro chapter chicks. We take part in a variety of historical fiction and nonfiction history group reads and discussions, and are given an occasional opportunity to review advance reader copies. One such book is Song of a Captive Bird, the debut novel by Jasmin Darznik, an Iranian American literature professor who resides in northern California. Although this book is slotted as a group read in a few months, I was drawn to the pretty color, which lightened up a gray winter day. Combined with a captivating subject matter, I could not resist to read this tale of Iranian feminist poet Forugh Farrokhzad a few months in advance.

    It is 1950s Iran. Although it is decades before the Khomeini family overthrew the shah and his antiquated form of government, Iran is still an eastern powerhouse country, devoid of many eastern influences. Women do not have to wear a burka that is emblematic with their status today, but their rights were limited nonetheless. Girls were lucky to receive an eighth grade education, and unmarried women and girls could rarely leave their homes unless they were chaperoned by a male relative. Women went from being the property of their fathers to that of their husbands and unless they were fortunate enough to marry a forward thinking person, still were relegated to life within their homes. Forugh Farrokhzad was a rebellious daughter of Colonel Farrokhzad. From an early age she desired more than a life as an obedient daughter turned wife, and was influenced by the extensive library her father kept in their home. Despite receiving only the requisite eighth grade education, Forugh kept up her learning through reading and then eventually writing poetry. What is more, despite the attitude toward women writers during the era, her father initially encouraged her forays into writing. This changed one day when Forugh showed promise as a poet.

    Coming of age, Forugh thought she found true love in the form of a cousin Parviz Shapour. Her father not knowing what to do with her rebellious daughter, married her off before she brought shame to the family. Shipped off to rural Ahwez, Forugh became the property of Parviz and by extension his mother. She became a prisoner in their humble abode and longed for life back in Tehran. After giving birth to her son Kamyan, Forugh longed for her family only to discover than Parviz had no desire to travel to the nation's capital city. Craving independence from her husband, Forugh turned to writing and had invitations to publish in some of the city's start up intellectual literary journals of the time. Traveling to the capital alone under the guise of visiting her mother, Forugh began to make a name for herself in poetry circles, albeit a scandalous one. As a result, she brought the shame to her family that the Colonel had feared during Forugh's teenage years. The feminist poems which influenced a generation of school girls, but lead to Forugh's divorce from Parviz as he did not wish to be married to a modern woman who did not fit the mold of demure Iranian wife and mother.

    Equating marriage as bird captive in a cage, Forugh makes a name for herself as a poet and forges a strong female friendship with Qajar heiress Leila Farmayan who becomes her entry into the upper crust of Tehran society. While Darznik has take poetic license in creating this friendship, she uses it as a means to touch on the crumbling Iranian society amidst student uprisings in the later 1950s and early 1960s. The discovery of oil in Iran brought an influx of English and American influences into the country, and, with the arrival of westerners, the desire of the younger generation to enjoy better human rights. Leading to various factions in both the government and society, people lived in constant fear until these student protests quelled. In the midst of this activism, Forugh continued to write poetry volumes, which lead to a meeting and relationship with film director Darius Golshiri. Darznik takes much license in their relationship as well, but uses it to touch on the changing place of women in society. Unfortunately, in a country as Iran, the more things changed especially with increasing western influence, the more men asserted themselves as superior to women. Forugh's place as a poet and later as a film director cemented her place in intellectual circles, but many still believed that men wrote her work and wished her to stop writing. This criticism only encouraged Forugh to continue writing.

    In her afterward, Darznik writes that when her family fled Iran in 1978, her mother smuggled out two volumes of Forugh's poetry. Seeing this poetry as a child led to Darznik's fascination with the poetess later in life, which eventually lead to her research for this book. She includes translated poems throughout the text including the title poem Song of a Captive Bird. I found the poetry to be more mature than the prose, but felt that the prose flowed well for a debut novel. I myself grew fascinated with Forugh Farrokhzad's life and would be intrigued to read some of her poetry past the selections featured in this novel. Combined with the sensory stimulating cover and feminist poetry, Darznik shows promise as a continuing novelist, and I would look forward to reading her future novels.

    Breakdown:

    4.5 story

    3 writing

    4 poetry

    3.5 overall

  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I won a copy of this book through one of my book groups. I had NO IDEA how good this book would be.

    This book is inspired by the life and poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad. She was amazing! She went against the grain of what an Iranian woman should be in those times. She was a great poetis, feminist and activist.

    Thank you to Retro Chapter Chics for getting me involved in this book!

    I won a copy of this book through one of my book groups. I had NO IDEA how good this book would be.

    This book is inspired by the life and poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad. She was amazing! She went against the grain of what an Iranian woman should be in those times. She was a great poetis, feminist and activist.

    Thank you to Retro Chapter Chics for getting me involved in this book!

    Happy Reading!

    Mel 🖤🐾🐺

  • Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)

    3.5 stars

    In

    (a beautiful and perfect title), author Jasmin Darznik is the voice for Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. Forugh - an influential poet of the 20th century - was notorious for rebelling against cultural norms, especially in her work.

    Forugh's accomplishments come at the expense of her reputation and family life. In her thirty-two years she has been through so much pain; all she wanted was to be loved for who she was. Darznik captures that and uses her own words to

    3.5 stars

    In

    (a beautiful and perfect title), author Jasmin Darznik is the voice for Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. Forugh - an influential poet of the 20th century - was notorious for rebelling against cultural norms, especially in her work.

    Forugh's accomplishments come at the expense of her reputation and family life. In her thirty-two years she has been through so much pain; all she wanted was to be loved for who she was. Darznik captures that and uses her own words to bring that love to Forugh.

    For more of my review visit:

    The book is inspired by Forugh's story and a work of fiction. But, it was written in first person which was interesting to me: I often felt as if I was reading a memoir and had to remind myself that certain story lines and characters may not have been true.

    It took me a bit longer than my regular reading pace as I had a bit of a slow start, but I wanted to know more of Forugh's story and kept going: I felt like I owed it to her to keep reading on.

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

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