Margaret's Reviews > Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
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Jul 26, 10

bookshelves: books-and-reading, autobiography, biography, memoirs, authors-mn
Read in May, 2006, read count: 1

Nafisi is a professor of English literature who resigned from her position in a Tehran university as a protest against increasingly repressive policies. Then she gathered together seven of her female students into a reading group, meeting regularly to read and discuss classics of Western literature, including Austen, James, Fitzgerald, and Nabokov, intending to "consider...how these great works of imagination could help us in our present trapped situation as women." The result is a skillful mixture of social commentary, memoir, and literary criticism.

Nafisi weaves back and forth among the strands of her university life, the events of Iran's cultural revolution, and the lives and thoughts of the students in the book group. A particularly compelling section presents a mock trial at the university in which Nafisi defends The Great Gatsby against accusations of Western decadence and irrelevance. I've read a number of reviews on Amazon accusing Nafisi of not presenting the whole picture, but really, it's a memoir, not a history, and for me at least, it succeeded quite well as that.
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message 1: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell I'd heard a lot of criticism of this, but might have to read it for the Gatsby part!


Margaret Elizabeth, I agree. I can perhaps understand the people who didn't get along with her writing style, but it seems odd to me to criticize a memoir for being a memoir and presenting the author's viewpoint. I feel as though that's criticizing the book not for what it is, but for what the reviewer thinks it ought to be.

Moi, I'd be interested to see what you think if you read it.


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