My Life as a Traitor
About the book
Zarah Ghahramani was born in Tehran in 1981, two years after Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran to establish the Islamic Republic. Her life changed suddenly in 2001 when, after having taken part in student demonstrations, she was arrested and charged with ‘inciting crimes against the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran’.
My Life As a Traitor is a beautifully written memoir of Zarah’s life in Iran, revealing the human face behind the turmoil of the modern Middle East. Her descriptions of Persian culture, contemporary Iranian society, and radical Islamist politics are eye-opening, as is her account of the growing voice of dissent in Iran. But it is the story of Zarah’s struggle to survive the nightmare world of Iran’s oppressive regime that makes My Life As a Traitor an unforgettable testimony to the strength of the human spirit.
About the authors
Zarah Ghahramani was born in Tehran in 1981, two years after Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran to establish the Islamic Republic.
Her life changed suddenly in 2001 when, after having taken part in student demonstrations, she was arrested (literally snatched off the street by secret police) and charged with ‘inciting crimes against the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran’. While imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison she faced brutal interrogation: her head was shaved and she was beaten.
After being released, she was forbidden to return to university and soon realised that she had no future in her native land. Robert Hillman, an Australian writer, met and befriended Zarah in Iran in 2003 and helped her to escape to Australia, where she now has permanent residency.
Robert Hillman’s first novel, A Life of Days, appeared in 1988. Since then, he has had four more novels published, and a number of works of non-fiction, including a memoir, The Boy in the Green Suit, which won the Australian National Biography Award.
His 2008 biography of an Afghani refugee, The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif, became a set text for VCE English students in 2010.
In 2008, Hillman co-authored, with Zarah Ghahramani, My Life as a Traitor, a young Iranian woman's account of the realities behind the turmoil of the modern Middle East.
His biography of blind indigenous singer, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was published in 2013.
This is the author’s account of her life in post-revolutionary Iran where she grew up. She was arrested when she was 20 for taking part in student demonstrations and then was imprisoned. It is a moving and beautifully written book, full of small details of life that widens out into a shocking story of political oppression.
The book also contains meditations on Persian culture and accounts of deep and warm family relationships that make it much more than simply a grim account of imprisonment and torture.