Letters to My Torturer

Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran

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About The Book

Meet Brother Hamid. He knows how to get answers.

“A searing and unforgettable account” (Publishers Weekly) comes to mass-market paperback

Houshang Asadi’s Letters to My Torturer is one of the most harrowing accounts of human suffering to emerge from Iran and is now available for the first time in paperback.
Kept in solitary confinement for over two years in an infamous Tehran prison, Asadi suffered inhuman degradations and brutal torture: suspended from the ceiling, beaten, and forced to bark like a dog, Asadi became a spy for the Russians, for the British – for anyone.
Narrowly escaping execution as the government unleashed a bloody pogrom against political prisoners, Asadi was hauled before a sham court and sentenced to fifteen years. Here he confronts his torturer, speaking for those who will never be heard, and provides a glimpse into the heart of Iran and the practice of state-sponsored justice.

About The Author

A journalist, writer, and translator, Houshang Asadi was a member of both the Writers' Association of Iran and the Iranian Journalists' Syndicate, and the co-founder of the Association of Iranian Film Critics and Script Writers. Prior to the Islamic Revolution he served for many years as Deputy Editor at Kayhan, Iran's largest daily newspaper, and was for 12 years the Editor-in-Chief of the country's largest circulation film magazine, Gozaresh. He is the author of several novels, plays, and film scripts, and has translated into Persian important works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and T.S. Eliot. In 1983, following the Iranian government's crackdown on all opposition parties, Asadi was arrested and sent to the infamous Moshtarek prison in Tehran. He was kept in solitary confinement for almost 2 years, during which time he was severely tortured until he falsely confessed to operating as a spy for the British and Russian intelligence agencies. His sentence was death by hanging. In the end this was reduced to 15 years imprisonment. He was freed after serving 6 years and eventually escaped Iran in 2003. He now lives in exile in Paris with his wife, where he co-founded the influential Persian-language news website Rooz Online.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (June 1, 2010)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780740317

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Raves and Reviews

"With moving stories about fellow prisoners, biting commentary on the religious dictates imposed by his jailers, and meditations on the soul-destroying effect of false confessions and the special cruelty of his ideological, authoritarian interrogators, Asadi’s simple prose attracts even as the facts he reports repel...A horrifying glimpse of the decades-long nightmare still afflicting the people of Iran."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Iranian journalist Asadi offers a searing and unforgettable account of the six years he spent in prison after being arrested in 1981 in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution. Twenty years later, now living in Paris, Asadi records his recollections of torture and imprisonment in the form of 27 letters to his interrogator, whom he calls Brother Hamid. Required at all times to wear a blindfold in Brother Hamid’s presence, Asadi developed a relationship with and a perverse dependence upon his torturer, which he describes in graphic detail, along with the endless parade of humiliations he was required to endure while being falsely accused of being both a British and a Soviet spy. Asadi is a gifted storyteller; even if the text, which jumps about chronologically, can be momentarily confusing, his ability to convey the toll of torture and imprisonment is undiminished. And the choice of the epistolary narrative device is a felicitous one: it’s as if the reader has found these letters in a shoebox or a locked drawer, making for harrowing and unique reading." (June)

– Publishers Weekly

"A searing and unforgettable account. . . Asadi is a gifted storyteller."

– Publishers Weekly

"Beautifully crafted, lyrical, and sad... An important firsthand account".

– Library Journal

"[B]eautifully crafted, lyrical, and sad... An important firsthand account."

– Library Journal

"A searing and unforgettable account. . . Asadi is a gifted storyteller."

– Publishers Weekly

"With moving stories about fellow prisoners, biting commentary on the religious dictates imposed by his jailers, and meditations on the soul-destroying effect of false confessions and the special cruelty of his ideological, authoritarian interrogators, Asadi’s simple prose attracts even as the facts he reports repel...A horrifying glimpse of the decades-long nightmare still afflicting the people of Iran."

– Kirkus Reviews

"The book would be remarkable on any terms, but it is made especially memorable by the chilling irony and heartbreaking naïveté that characterize Mr. Asadi’s tale... Mr. Asadi's dispassionate description of his experiences makes the book a permanent addition to the harrowing genre of the torture memoir. A powerful testament to what transpires in the prisons of Iran."

– The Wall Street Journal

"The book would be remarkable on any terms, but it is made especially memorable by the chilling irony and heartbreaking naïveté that characterize Mr. Asadi’s tale... Mr. Asadi's dispassionate description of his experiences makes the book a permanent addition to the harrowing genre of the torture memoir. A powerful testament to what transpires in the prisons of Iran."

– The Wall Street Journal

"A scathing indictment of torture and a testament to survival against all odds. It is the revenge of truth and a past revealed but not yet healed."

– Michael Henderson - author of ‘No Enemy to Conquer: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World’

"A terrifying and deeply moving account of a man and a country still brutalised by the politics of fear."

– Clive Stafford Smith - Director of Reprieve and author of 'Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and the Secret Pr

"This remarkable, humane story of abuse and survival across Iranian regimes - told by Ayatollah Khameinei's former cellmate - deserves a global audience, to understand the meaning of cruelty and the reality of modern, tragic, brutal Iran."

– Philippe Sands

"A reminder of the unspeakable brutality that keeps the Iranian regime in power. Asadi's shocking evidence will be a key element in the indictment of the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran in court."

– Kaveh Moussavi - Head of the Public Interest Law Programme, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Universi

"A terrifying and deeply moving account of a man and a country still brutalised by the politics of fear."

– Clive Stafford Smith - Director of Reprieve and author of 'Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and the Secret Pr

"This remarkable, humane story of abuse and survival across Iranian regimes - told by Ayatollah Khameinei's former cellmate - deserves a global audience, to understand the meaning of cruelty and the reality of modern, tragic, brutal Iran."

– Philippe Sands

"A reminder of the unspeakable brutality that keeps the Iranian regime in power. Asadi's shocking evidence will be a key element in the indictment of the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran in court."

– Kaveh Moussavi - Head of the Public Interest Law Programme, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Universi

"A scathing indictment of torture and a testament to survival against all odds. It is the revenge of truth and a past revealed but not yet healed."

– Michael Henderson - author of ‘No Enemy to Conquer: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World’

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