The Uncaged Sky
Shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year for Non Fiction
Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction 2023
‘The sky above our heads was uncaged and unlike us, free.’
The extraordinary true story of Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s fight to survive 804 days imprisoned in Iran.
On September 12, 2018 British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran Airport by Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Convicted of espionage in a shadowy trial presided over by Iran’s most notorious judge, Dr Moore-Gilbert was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin and Qarchak prisons for 804 days, this is the full and gripping account of her harrowing ordeal. Held in a filthy solitary confinement cell for months, and subjected to relentless interrogation, Kylie was pushed to the limits of her endurance by extreme physical and psychological deprivation.
Kylie’s only lifeline was the covert friendships she made with other prisoners inside the Revolutionary Guards’ maximum-security compound where she had been ‘disappeared’, communicating in great danger through the air vents between cells, and by hiding secret letters in hava khori, the narrow outdoor balcony where she was led, blindfolded, for a solitary hour each day.
Cut off from the outside world, Kylie realised she alone had the power to change the dynamics of her incarceration. To survive, she began to fight back, adopting a strategy of resistance with her captors. Multiple hunger strikes, letters smuggled to the media, co-ordinated protests with other prisoners and a daring escape attempt led to her transfer to the isolated desert prison, Qarchak, to live among convicted criminals.
On November 25, 2020, after more than two years of struggle, Kylie was finally released in a high stakes three-nation prisoner swap deal orchestrated by the Australian government, laying bare the complex game of global politics in which she had become a valuable pawn.
Written with extraordinary insight and vivid immediacy, The Uncaged Sky is Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s remarkable story of courage and resilience, and a powerful meditation on hope, solidarity and what it means to be free.
About the Author
|Kylie Moore-Gilbert is a scholar of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. Kylie speaks several Middle Eastern languages and has spent significant periods travelling and conducting academic research in the region. She was falsely charged with espionage and imprisoned in Iran from September 2018 to November 2020 before being released in a prisoner exchange deal negotiated by the Australian government.|
'immensely readable' – The Sydney Morning Herald
'reads like an espionage thriller' – The Australian
'stunning' – Osher Günsberg
'brilliant’ – Mia Freedman
'utterly engrossing' – Australian Book Review
‘Kylie Moore-Gilbert is one pretty remarkable woman’ – Sarah Abo
‘There are no heroes and villains in The Uncaged Sky … only human beings. The depth of Moore-Gilbert’s empathy for the human condition is extraordinary … [She] sees deeply into the complexity of the human tragedy, and she writes of it with the compelling clarity of genius.’ – Alex Miller, author of A Brief Affair
‘Moments in her memoir The Uncaged Sky will leave readers breathless. The sheer terror, uncertainty and gnawing dread of a brutal regime closing in all around ... Powerfully and artfully written, the book has moments of joy shining through: the loving friendships made inside prison; the exhilaration of “escaping” to that uncaged sky, standing on the prison roof; and the strength Moore-Gilbert found to defy her captors amid the ceaseless cruelty of her incarceration.’ – Ben Doherty, The Guardian
‘The Uncaged Sky is a brilliant and powerful book.’ – Ann Cunningham, Booktopia
‘a remarkable story of courage’ – The Canberra Times
Survival. Imprisonment. Resilience.