Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

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Random House, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 347 pages
1732 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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Nafisi is an incredibly eloquent writer. - Goodreads
A long book with many digressions. - Goodreads
Full of great personal and cultural insights. - Goodreads
I found it very sluggish and difficult to read. - Goodreads
Educational! Way more interesting than I expected. - Goodreads
I love Nafisi's prose and sense of humor. - Goodreads

Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran

User Review  - Erin - Goodreads

I found this book to be an interesting insight into the volatile times of another culture. I did have a hard time getting through the actual revolution part of the tale and had some difficulty with the author's writing style but overall thought it was a decent read. Read full review

Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran

User Review  - Adam - Goodreads

This book was very eye-opening to the atrocities that surrounded being a woman in Tehran in the author's time there. I was constantly shocked by the things that would happen to her and her friends ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Azar Nafisi is the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran "and" Things I ve Been Silent About." A passionate advocate of books and reading, she appears regularly on major media and speaks to packed audiences around the world. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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