Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books Reading Lolita in Tehran discussion


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why write this book?

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message 1: by ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:07AM) (new)

ali why write this book?


message 2: by Louise (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:07AM) (new)

Louise So I've been thinking that we should start an online bookclub (since we're all going our seperate ways soon). Was also thinking we could invite other goodreads/facebook friends...

What do you think?
1. Should it be on goodreads/facebook?
2. What would we read first? I was thinking that most of us have read His Dark Materials, so we could choose a similar genre?

Any thoughts?

As you might have guessed, i'm supposed to be doing my dissertation and rather thinking of other ways to fill my time... ;-)

L


message 3: by Danielle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:07AM) (new)

Danielle This book really helped to ensure me of my vocational aims.


message 4: by Tony (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:07AM) (new)

Tony Good book - I read it a while ago, so it may seem a little outdated. Isn't Kristof a NYT columnist now covering Darfur stuff?


message 5: by Annabooklover (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:08AM) (new)

Annabooklover What do you mean? THat it wasn't worth writing? I found the connection between teacher and students and how they experienced their lives through books very interesting.
Plus the glimpse into a life so different from mine but at the same time so similar was faschinating


message 6: by jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new)

jess oooh! good idea!
i went to a screening of neil gaiman's 'stardust' the other night- set to one of the big films of the summer.
it was excellent, so how about we read the book?
it's very lord of the rings-fantasy-magic...
here's the link to the movie site...
[http://www.stardustmovie.com/]
and the link to the amazon page...
[http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stardust-Neil...]


message 7: by nina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

nina i can understand writing this book because it gives an insight into some of the freedoms we take for granted. i can't imagine what it would be like to have classic literature banned, and so reading this book gave me an appreciation for it. it also gave me insight into Persian culture, something that interests me because i am half Persian.


message 8: by Pat (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new)

Pat Neuman Good question. I thought it was a HUGE ego trip when it could have been so much more.


message 9: by aisha (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

aisha chapra Initially I thought something was wrong with my gut reaction to it when i started reading it and everyone around me couldn't put it down...because i actually did it put it down about the time she landed in Washington DC...i remember thinking why did we suddenly leave behind the most interesting characters (the students) for a memoir about the teacher??


message 10: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sarah I think memoirs are inherently egocentric. Wasn't this book more about her students and the society she was living in than her, anyway?


message 11: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sarah Good string of comments folks; I was both disappointed and happy to have read this book. Disappointed because I wanted more of life in Tehran. Happy because I'm a fan of classic literature, book clubs, and student-teacher relationships.


message 12: by Julie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Julie I really did not like this book. I do appreciate literature, but just thought this book was super flowery and very egocentric. It was a fantastic idea, but just didn't follow through.


message 13: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kay I thought this was a brilliant concept and having been part of a reading group in the Emirates I really expected some of the depth and incisiveness I found there, but this was a saccharine version of reality, I thought. The 'teacher' seemed not even a step ahead of the 'students' in terms of literary insight and the egocentricity of her world view disappointed me.


message 14: by Katie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katie I didn't see the book as egocentric. I saw it more as a closely observed narrative of one person's life, since the author seemed to see her experience as one reflection of a lot of different experiences of people living under the Islamist government in Iran, as well as those dealing with tyranny in general.


message 15: by Marte (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:43AM) (new)

Marte Patel Brilliant idea Louise! I didn't find this post until today, as I hadn't even realised I was part of this group until I accidentally came across it while looking for something else. Therefore I am inclined to think that perhaps we should advertise this on Facebook somehow, if you are still keen on the idea of an online book club?


message 16: by Leslie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leslie I enjoyed learning about how the women felt living in Iran and about the culture over there. Although I majored in English lit, I hadn't read many of the books they discussed, so that part was a little lost on me. The audio book version is pretty good though.


message 17: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Amy I had mixed feelings about this book. I found myself alternately welling up with tears at some of the more touching moments, and rolling my eyes at some of the prose and lit crit.


message 18: by Sheri (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:39PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheri My book club decided to read this book, and I must admit, I have not been able to get through it. I feet like it is more "name dropping" and "I know this, see?" more than anything else. Obviously, like it has already been stated, egocentric. I am wondering if I should try to plow through it, because it did receive many glowing reviews. What I got through, I wished I could have read more about the students' lives and less about everything Nafisi "knows".


Michelle Ok, I just finished the book and I am not surprised that the individual who posted this question is a male from the very country where this book was written. Come on people, just as I tell my students - be conscientious consumers. Think before you act. I adored this book, and would recommend it to anyone with an open mind and an open heart. No, I do not think it is a literary work of genius, but it is a fascinating insight into one person’s experience during a real time in our history.

In direct reply to the comment ‘why write this book’, my response is simple – didn’t you read the book?!?! For the author’s pleasure of course!! She basically, indirectly says so throughout the entire book! Yes, it is decadent to want to write for one’s own pleasure, but just as she outlines various other authors’ statements as well as how she attempts to encourage the young women in her ‘class’, for them, for herself, and I hope maybe a little bit for us.



Halie Crocker I was disappointed in the book, too, mostly because of its mediocre prose. The narrator does a lot of telling, instead of showing; she keeps telling us that she's going to tell us what she's going to tell us, but there are no truly memorable scenes or well-drawn characters. Too bad, because the subject matter seems to have so much potential...


message 21: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Read "Jasmine and Stars" by Fatemeh Keshavarz; it's a response to this book and just amazing.


message 22: by Tara (new)

Tara I`ve tried to read this book twice, and totally cant get into it. I`ve never made it past about 20 pages. It just seems hard to follow and boring...maybe i should persevere, but it just sits on my shelf month after month.


message 23: by Doug (last edited Apr 08, 2008 05:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Doug Some interesting background from online source:

Nafisi is currently a Visiting Fellow and lecturer at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC.

She is the daughter of Ahmad Nafisi, a former mayor of Tehran, and Nezhat Nafisi, who was among the first women to be elected to the Iranian parliament. Nafisi is married to Bijan Naderi, and has two children, Negar and Dara.

Born in Iran, Nafisi was sent to school in Lancaster, England at the age of 13.[1] She moved to the United States in the last year of her high school career. She received a Ph.D in English and American literature at the University of Oklahoma. She also holds an honarary doctorate from Bard College. Nafisi returned to Iran in 1979 where she was a professor of English literature at the University of Tehran. She taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabaii before her return to the United States in 1997 — earning national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran's intellectuals, youth and especially young women. She was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil in 1981, and did not resume teaching until 1987.

Having witnessed the Iranian revolution and the subsequent rise to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Nafisi soon became restless with the many stringent rules imposed upon women by her country's new rulers. She appreciated the freedom that women in other countries took for granted, and which women in Iran had now lost.

In 1995, finding herself no longer able to teach English literature properly without attracting the scrutiny of the authorities, she quit teaching at the university, and instead invited seven of her best female students to secretly attend regular meetings at her house, every Thursday morning. They studied literary works considered controversial and even dangerous to read in post-revolutionary Iranian society such as Lolita, Madame Bovary and The Great Gatsby, as well as novels by Henry James and Jane Austen, attempting to understand and interpret them from a modern Iranian perspective.


check out: http://www.theconnection.org/shows/20...




Christine Just finished the book! I enjoyed the book overall - to me, the book seemed to have been written out of the author's overflowing, somewhat snobbish, need and desire to express (and brag, in a way) her interpretations and revelations from her favorite titles... coupled with a bit of frustration with how others (including her students) just don't get it.

Nonetheless... I enjoyed it. It was a cute little book about how fictions can shape the experiences of your realities....


Jaykumar Buddhdev Michelle wrote: "Ok, I just finished the book and I am not surprised that the individual who posted this question is a male from the very country where this book was written. Come on people, just as I tell my stude..."

i purchased and read this book because my favorite professor said i will enjoy it... she is right... Ma'am said this book will help me to understand literature and the concept of overlapping genres...
i agree with what u have to say...

the author has merely told us what she and her student thought of the political life out there while alluding to Literature, which is brilliant... though the book is not a display of genius... it should not be neglected...

Art and Life often mirror one another and this book in many way proves that point...

i enjoyed this book for i heard a strong female perspectives on classic and it also reads like a political novel from the female POV...

i would readily recommend this book to anyone with an open-mind and a thirst for Literature in general...


Geoffrey My only fault witht the book was the author`s extolling the value of Henry James. What a fuddy, duddy, sexist bore. I don`t care a cahoot for his ability to spin the words, he was a jerk.


Geoffrey Other than that, reverting back to the first posting, why ask silly questions?


Baljit Annabooklover wrote: "What do you mean? THat it wasn't worth writing? I found the connection between teacher and students and how they experienced their lives through books very interesting.
Plus the glimpse into a life..."


I completely agree with you. I have posted my review


Tiemu So several people call this book egocentric and even boring, but don't actually give reasons why.

If a memoir is egocentric than don't read memoirs or autobiographies. I like reading memoirs and this is the least egocentric one I've encountered, as we're told the lives of the students and teachers.

Responding to the original question, why read any book anyway?


message 30: by Jean (new) - rated it 1 star

Jean Carlton I quit on this one - I am pleased to have reached the point where if I am not enjoying anything about it - either learning something or challenged or enchanted by the prose...I have a long list to get to. IMHO she is not a good writer - she had an interesting topic and could have done so much more - where is her editor?


Sarah Jean wrote: "I quit on this one - I am pleased to have reached the point where if I am not enjoying anything about it - either learning something or challenged or enchanted by the prose...I have a long list to ..."

I too agree she is not a good writer. I was disappointed in this book because of that.


Mamma23 HATED THIS BOOK. The premise was provocative, and I was so excited to read about women so oppressed they could not even READ books of their choice.. instead I got an repetitive, extended boast about how noble, brave, intelligent, cultured and important the author thinks she is. Horrible. One of the worst books I have ever tried to read and so overrated.


Badger Mamma23,
I agree. I thought it would have been an OK 45-page book or extended magazine article, but a full-length book? Not hardly. I think I finished it or it got so repetitive that I gave up. Can't remember; it's been a while since I read it.


message 34: by Geoffrey (last edited Dec 08, 2013 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Geoffrey Except that she WAS noble, brave, intelligent and cultured. It`s easy for someone who lives in a free society to discredit one in a totalitarian country.


Badger I'm not saying she wasn't, just that the book didn't go much beyond showing us that.


message 36: by Jean (new) - rated it 1 star

Jean Carlton What one thinks of her personally (or any author) does not relate to a literary critique of the book itself.


Geoffrey Exactly, Jean. And yes, I was mildly perturbed by her but then again the book is an exceptional one.


Sheila When so much of the book is dedicated to the subject of her, then, yes, it does relate to the critique. A work of the author extolling her own virtues invites criticism that extends to her, the author.

I know it figured into my experience of the book.


Reading Faerie Sarah wrote: "I think memoirs are inherently egocentric. Wasn't this book more about her students and the society she was living in than her, anyway?"

Yes, it was.


message 40: by Jean (new) - rated it 1 star

Jean Carlton Sheila wrote: "When so much of the book is dedicated to the subject of her, then, yes, it does relate to the critique.
You are right - I thought of that after I posted. Engage brain - then type! Thinking further - a memoir by a person you really don't like or already have an opinion of may start out at a disadvantage no matter how well it is written? (not that this was well written, IMHO)



Barbara This was the first book i read after having a break from reading for many years and it was very absorbing and fascinating, i loved it. Also reading it opened my mind up to other cultures and nations.


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