Bestselling Memoir Author Delivers 20th Annual Margaret Laurence Lecture
Marina Nemat Shares Experiences as a Political Prisoner in Iran
To a standing-room only crowd, internationally-acclaimed and bestselling memoir author, Marina Nemat, delivered the Twentieth Annual Margaret Laurence Lecture on Tuesday, November 10 at Trent University.
Coming to Trent for the first time, Ms. Nemat, author of Prisoner of Tehran, presented a harrowing account of her arrest and imprisonment at the age of sixteen after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran.
To the hushed audience, she spoke of her teenage years spent at the notorious Evin Prison, where those who spoke out against the Republic were held. Taken from her home by soldiers one night, Ms. Nemat narrowly escaped execution, was tortured, and forced into a ‘marriage’ with one of the prison officials. Her crime was speaking out in her high-school physics class about the replacement of the curriculum with religious instruction and inciting other students to follow.
Ms. Nemat came to Canada in 1991 and in 2007, published her memoir. Her story is the story of thousands of political prisoners. And her words put a human face on the horror that is still being carried out to this day, in prisons around the world.
Said one audience member: “It was like having a conversation with her, despite a packed hall. You could hear a pin drop. It was extraordinary. Riveting.” A sixteen year old high school student also in attendance stated: “This is a story that all high school students should hear. We have no idea what is actually happening when we hear about places around the world where people are imprisoned and tortured. She’s amazing.”
After the lecture, Ms. Nemat signed her book for many members of the audience, and then continued the conversation with Trent students at a reception. Her next book is set to be published in the fall of 2010.
The Margaret Laurence Lecture honours Trent’s fourth chancellor, and acknowledges her contributions to literature, feminism, ecology, and the peace movement. The annual lecture is organized by the Women’s Studies Department, and funded by a generous endowment which received matching funds from the Canadian Studies Directorate, Heritage Canada.
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009.