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Walker's Bookshelf

Portrait of an Iconoclast

In Jasmin Darznik’s Song of a Captive Bird, she explores the life of Forugh Farrokzhad, one of the great Iranian poets of the 20th century. Farrokzhad’s poetry is known for its simplicity, fierceness, and boldness. At a time when women were expected to be silent, Farrokzhad unapologetically wrote about women’s desires and emotions. She often criticized and challenged the patriarchal attitudes of contemporary Iranian society.

As someone who was personally inspired by Farrokzhad’s writings, Jasmin Darznik presents a well-researched, fictionalized account of Forugh Farrokzhad’s life story. In the author’s note, she mentioned “embracing the unique power of fiction to illuminate the past.” Darznik does more. She takes the reader into Iran, with its rich culture and history, and presents the powerful story of Forugh Farrokzhad, who in life was as unyielding and bold as her poetry, and just as complex.


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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

In early 1900s Korea, prized daughter Sunja finds herself pregnant and alone, bringing shame on her family until a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and move with her to Japan, in the saga of one family bound together as their faith and identity are called into question.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

From 1995-97 in Iran, Azar Nafisi gathered with seven of her former students, all young women, to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. Reserved at first, the women soon learned to speak their minds and share their repressed dreams.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Recounting the story of her life to her granddaughter, octogenarian Addie describes how she was raised in early-twentieth-century America by Jewish immigrant parents in a teeming multicultural neighborhood.

**Descriptions from NoveList Plus**