Tifnie's Reviews > Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
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Aug 23, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction, culture
Read from August 09 to 21, 2011

While reading Reading Lolita in Tehran I felt like I not only had a literature lesson, but a cultural lesson as well.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is about Azar Nafisi, a Literature Professor at The University of Tehran, who teaches literature to both men and women and reads not only Lolita, but The Great Gatsby, works by Henry James, Jane Austen, and talks about many books previously read and discussed. Not only is the book fasinating, but it takes place in the time of The Islamic Republic where women have no rights and are forced to wear the veil with new more idiotic rules that are enforced brutally for which the women must adhere to. Basically women must follow these new rules or be imprision, beatened, and even murdered.

At one point, Azar Nafisi, starts a book club in her living room every Thursday with a select group of women from her classes. It is in this book club that the women reveal themselves by removing the veils, letting out their cascading hair, displaying the vibrant colors that they were beneath the dark robes, and talking openly about the books they read, relationships, as well as how they feel about The Islamic Republic.

I felt it was well written and at times rather frightening that Azar Nafisi risked so much and yet wasn't imprisioned or worse, murdered, because she continued to teach forbidden materials and was often with a man (her mentor) who wasn't her husband nor a relative.

My only issue I had with this book was that it was 100 pages too long. After about 250 pages, Azar Nafisi got a little preachy about her love for her country while bombs where exploding all around her as she sat with her two daughters and read by candlelight. She talked endlessly about her desire to leave Iran and how much it tormented her and yet the idea that she could walk around without the dark robes, veil, fear of being beaten, imprisoned, murdered, didn't really weigh much in her decision at the beginning. Not being from her culture, I had a hard time understanding her desire to stay in a place where she didn't have rights and was in constant fear.

...I guess if you live your life in fear long enough you start to believe that you are worthless and will soon deny youself simple things, like strength and freedom.
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