Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who spent 18 months detained in an Iranian prison before his release in January, will write a book about his ordeal for Ecco.
The memoir, tentatively titled “Hostage: 544 Days, 400 Million Dollars, the Nuclear Deal & Me,” is scheduled for publication in 2018.
“Not knowing when I would get out was an incredible ordeal for my family and me to endure,” says Rezaian, who is studying at Harvard on a Nieman Fellowship. “Now that it’s over, the hard work of putting my life back together continues, and that, too, has included many incredible and often surreal moments.”
Rezaian, 40, was born in San Francisco to an Iranian father and an American mother and was raised in Marin County, Calif. He had lived in Iran since 2009 as a freelance journalist before joining The Washington Post in 2012 as Tehran correspondent.
The book will share his experiences growing up as an Iranian American in the United States and reporting from Iran, as well as the story of his imprisonment.
Rezaian says, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to tell this exciting story, which, while intensely personal, also deals with one of the biggest international news stories of recent times.”
The book was acquired by food-and-travel-focused TV host Anthony Bourdain, who has an imprint with Ecco, a division of HarperCollins.
Rezaian and his wife, journalist Yeganeh Salehi, were filmed in 2014 for CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” program about Iran weeks before the couple’s arrest in July. Salehi, who was born in Iran, was detained for more than two months.
“It’s an important story. Harrowing and suspenseful, yes. But it’s also a deep dive into a complex and egregiously misunderstood country with two very different faces,” Bourdain says. “There is no better time to know more about Iran, and Jason Rezaian has seen both of those faces — the warmth and hospitality of the people, and the cruelty and absurdity of its security apparatus. I am very proud to be publishing him and grateful to have him back.”
Rezaian was tried on espionage and related charges in a closed-door trial. He spent 544 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison in the wing for political prisoners, 49 of them in solitary confinement.
In October, Rezaian and his family filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government, claiming that he was psychologically tortured and used to influence concessions from the U.S. government in Iran’s nuclear negotiations.
“I follow news from Iran very closely still,” he says, “especially the stories of dual nationals like me, who are currently being held hostage there for political reasons.”
Rezaian is a Terker Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media & Public Affairs, where he delivers a monthly guest lecture.
Since his release, “I’ve spent my time recuperating and reconnecting with my family, friends and colleagues,” he says. “I’m catching up on all that happened while I was gone, eating food that I love — burritos, lobster rolls and a lot of ramen — and following the Golden State Warriors with passion.”
And, now, writing his memoir.