[good reads] reading lolita in tehran

April 10, 2016


goodreads-readinglolitaI’ve recently been reading a book that I bought at the San Francisco Friends of the Library book sale called Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. This book is interesting in that it is actually a memoir, but many of the individuals have been changed/intertwined/combined in order to protect their identities. This book shares about how professor Azar Nafisi gathered seven of her most devoted women students in her living every Thursday morning in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These seven women and their professor delve into the worlds of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Jane Austen, but sometimes it’s hard to know if the fiction or the real stories reflect each other more.

While reading this memoir, I learned a whole lot more about Iran than I had expected. Really, I didn’t know that much about the country before now. I didn’t realize how open the state had been before the fundamentalists had reigned tyranny over the people. When the author Nafisi was growing up, she didn’t have to wear the veil. Women walked around in jeans and attended universities as they chose. It was only after the raids and such started that the veil became mandatory, universities were no longer a symbol of freedom, and professors who were too liberal, like Nafisi, were asked to leave. While this book is a bit difficult to understand at first, I really think it provides such great insight into two worlds: literature and Iran.

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