Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
I went into this memoir hoping for an in-depth look at what it means to risk reading forbidden books in Iran, with a little discussion of the literature on the side. What I found was an in-depth look at the literature with some side discussion of what it means to be reading it in Iran. This isn't an inherently bad thing--I have read Lolita, so I appreciated some of the literary analysis of it--but it wasn't what I came for. And, not having read some of the other books that were going to be discussed further in this memoir, I felt that I wouldn't appreciate or understand some of the analysis to come. When the book would veer toward the stories of the women and life in Iran, all too soon it would swing back to literary analysis--and it wasn't always related to the unique experience of reading it while living in tyranny. I didn't finish this one.
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From the publisher’s description:
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.