Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

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Random House LLC, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 347 pages
450 Reviews
We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true.

For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.

Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.

Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.
  

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I tried SO HARD to read this book. - LibraryThing
The let down, for me, was in the style of writing. - LibraryThing
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User Review  - LibraryCin - LibraryThing

3.5 stars Azar Nafisi was born in Iran, but studied in the U.S. She moved back to Iran with her husband and experienced the Iranian Revolution, as well as the war with Iraq before they left again. Her ... Read full review

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User Review  - Kristelh - LibraryThing

I was unable to finish this book before book club but no one did. I went back to read it later. It is a good description of culture/politics in Iran during the revolution and the Ayatolla. "Forcing ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Azar Nafisi is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. She won a fellowship from Oxford and taught English literature at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University and Allameh Tabatabai University in Iran. She was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the veil and left Iran for America in 1997. She has written for "The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal "and" The New Republic," and is the author of "Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov's Novels," She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.

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