A long-awaited memoir by the American journalist Theo Padnos, who retraces the Middle Eastern journey that led to his 2012 kidnapping and brutal torture by an al-Qaida faction
by Theo Padnos
Theo Padnos is a literary journalist whose capture by Al Qaeda in 2012 sent him on a terrifying odyssey. The two-year experience and its culmination will be described for the first time in these pages of this, his long-awaited memoir.
With the benefit of a few years to decompress, he has distilled his ordeal into a bracing, brilliant work of confession (of his hubris), insight (into human nature, and Islam), compassion (for his captors), and revelation (of their region’s tremors, and continuing threat). I’m not sure that does full justice to the humane sense of history that Theo has brought to these intimately personal pages; you won’t soon read a richer, more satisfying work of literary memoir. This dialectic might crystallize a lot of it: He acquired his sight by way of the blindfold he was given in the eye hospital.
BLINDFOLD will be a work of fascinating dichotomies: life/death, revenge/forgiveness, hubris/humility, faith/nihilism, slavery/freedom, justice/mercy, pain/ecstasy, blindness/sight. His account of the prisons of earth and the prisons of the mind will be the best kind of memoir—it’s about something other than its author. It will illuminate the cultural-psychological sea change that has swallowed Syria, giving rise to evil of unspeakable varieties (from the Assad-Putin killing machine to ISIS 2.0), and the threat it poses, specifically to Europe. And yet as Theo reckons with ground-level reality in the world’s most forbidding, inaccessible places, you may be startled to discover that his memoir will be one of forgiveness, equanimity, and reconciliation.
The London-based film production company 42 has acquired the rights to his life story. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, the directors of “20,000 Days on Earth” and “Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories,” a BBC drama, will direct the script written by Alistair Siddons. Production will begin soon.