Darznik’s knowledgeably invented characters and compellingly imagined scenarios, both of which are sensuous and harrowing, are deftly set within Iran’s violent, oil-fueled, mid-twentieth-century political and social upheavals, and stay true to the essence of Farrokhzad’s audacious, dramatic, and creative life ... Darznik’s enthralling and illuminating novel will introduce Farrokhzad to a whole new world of readers.
Darznik has composed her novel for Western ears, in elegantly simple language. She resists Persian flourishes in both her prose and her translations of Farrokhzad’s work; I question whether the poet would recognize herself in Darznik’s voice, compelling as it is. And here is a larger problem of poetic translation: How do you capture a language as floral and breathy as Farsi without access to its unique sounds? ... Song of a Captive Bird is a complex and beautiful rendering of that vanished country and its scattered people; a reminder of the power and purpose of art; and an ode to female creativity under a patriarchy that repeatedly tries to snuff it out.
Writing from a place of deep reverence for her central character, Darznik crafts a sensory experience, an Iran whose sights and sounds and scents feel neither superficial nor trivially exotic. The result is a well-honed novel about the meaning of rebellion—what happens when a poet of singular talent decides 'that it’s shame, not sin, that’s unholy.' ”