A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who defied society's expectations to find her voice and her destiny
"Remember the flight, for the bird is mortal."
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.
©2018 Jasmin Darznik (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Critic reviews

“If poetry is emotion rendered incendiary, then Forugh Farrokhzad was made of fire. . . . Song of a Captive Bird is an unsparing account of the necessity and consequences of speaking out.” BookPage   “Sometimes, simply choosing whom to love is a political act.” Vogue (“February’s Best Books”)“A stunning and powerful debut . . . 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   “A thrilling and provocative portrait of a powerful woman set against a sweeping panorama of Iranian history.” Kirkus Reviews   “Written with the urgent tenderness of a love letter, this soaring novel is a heart-breaker and heart-mender at once—a gorgeous tribute to the brave and brilliant poet remembered in its pages.” —Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and Silver Sparrow   “These are times for stories that bring one culture nearer to another, and that is exactly what Jasmin Darznik has done, pulling close the hearts of girls and women and poets to tell Forugh Farrokhzad’s remarkable story.” —Laleh Khadivi, author of A Good Country   “Farrokhzad is known as the Sylvia Plath of Iran, and the two poets were contemporaries, living lives at once starkly different and remarkably attuned, then dying young and tragically. Plath’s renown is universal; Darznik’s enthralling and illuminating novel will introduce Farrokhzad to a whole new world of readers.” Booklist (starred review)   “A beautiful writer! In elegant, intimate prose, Darznik portrays pre-Revolutionary Iran and a woman who transcended the prejudices of her time.” —Susan Cheever   “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   “Farrokhzad’s determination to live freely and authentically, and to express that determination in her art, proved unbearable to the fundamentalist state. Darznik brings her own poetic sensibility to bear on this tragic, but ultimately inspiring, act of creative remembrance.” —Jonathan Dee, author of The Locals   “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 Café Leila
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Susan on 25-06-18

I really wanted to love this book, but...

Dapznik is a gifted writer--particularly her ability to describe. But what she was unable to do for me was create a character I loved and was able to root for. So many terrible things happened to the main character, but I wasn't drawn in to the emotion. Same with the plot. At one point she was in a terrible bind and her car was cut off by police and the very next sentence was "In jail I had a lot of time to think." She skipped entirely something that would have created sympathy and understanding for the character. I ended up simply quiting half way through the last chapter. I just didn't care.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Mani on 03-06-18


I was mesmerized by this book; at times a biography; at times a novel; always respectful of the legacy of Forough Farrokhzad. I was unaware of most of the story, having moved to Iran at the young age of two in 1964. We lived in the small oil town of Masjid-I-Sulayman until we moved to Tehran in 1968, after Forough’s death. I had met the author Jasmin in Northern CA at a conference for Iranian Women. That’s where I bought the hardcover book, to support a fellow artistic Iranian-American woman (I’m a female Iranian-American architect). Now after hearing the audible book, I have such a tremendous understanding of our home country, the limitations under which Forough was raised, the reasons for her rebellion and the impact she left on the future generations of women; not only for her poetry and films, but mostly from this book, I truly understood the woman Forough. The narrator was very familiar with Persian terminology and kept a steady voice throughout, whether reading about a passionate love scene, a scary encounter, a heart wrenching moment or a confused mind. Even though I grew up in Iran for 15 years of my life, there’s so much I didn’t know until I read this book. Thank you Jasmin for opening our hearts by sharing this daring story with us.

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