It took me a few chapters to get into "Reading Lolita". I thought it was going to be a strict memoir, and when she digressed into these elaborate dissertations on (especially Lolita), I found myself getting bored. Now, I'm not one to ever eschew an intellectual conversation or debate on anything, but I really wanted to hear about the girls and their lives and Azar Nafisi's life in this horrible theocratic regime. I also wanted to know how they managed to get away with reading such blasphemous stuff. When Azar Nafisi talked of these things, I couldn't put the book down, but when she started on her diatribes and nuanced descriptions of "Lolita", Nabokov, Fitzgerald and Austen, I found my mind wandering. I suppose if I had picked up a book entitled, "The In-Depth Analysis of Vladimir Nabokov and Lolita", I wouldn't have felt that way, but as you know, this isn't that book. As the book progressed, I really did have affection for some of the characters, and I truly felt scared for them and hoped that this book didn't have a horrible ending like all the women getting executed. Luckily, we didn't have to deal with that, but I wish Azar Nafisi would write a book just talking about the lives and feelings and situations of young women in Iran, so that people in the United States can really figure out what's going on over there. Unfortunately, I believe that would be hard for Nafisi to do. She is definitely an intellectual, and I think her interest lies in absolutely dissecting fiction in a way that no one else is really interested in.
Finally, I do believe this book is worth reading. I learned some things about what was going on when the Ayatollah was in power, things I didn't realize and I did find myself sort of missing "the girls" after reading the last page and closing the book.
This is not a badly written book. I kept losing interest in it - Anyone over the age of 30 is aware of the oppression that women in Iran suffered upon the Revolution. The problem I had with it is that in order to fully comprehend this story, the literature discussed in this memoir should be fresh in the reader's head. Unfortunately, I haven't read stories such as The Great Gatsby or Lolita in years, and didn't want to reread these stories solely for the sake of Nafisi's book.
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but when I started I found it somewhat boring. I have never read Lolita, so I guess this started me off on the wrong foot. I wanted to read more about the women and their lives in Iran than the discussions in their bookclub. I am posting this book but will try to finish before it goes.
I tried very hard to read this book. I usually read a minimum of 50 pages before deciding I don't like a book. I gave this book about 100 pages and still couldn't find it worth my time. It was a big disappointment to me as I was anxious to learn more about the women and the challenges they faced. Instead, for my tastes, too much of the book was being devoted to a critique of the books the women in the group read. I wanted to read more about the women and less about the books.
I left this book with a renewed sense of strength and an amplified connection to the collective of women on our planet. How these goddesses of Iran deal with such oppression is something every woman and man should appreciate. Though it may not be fraught with "action" as some may want, I found this book to be an impossible to put down read...stick with it if you are having trouble beeing pulled in. The empathy will pour out of you as you read, especially for those with open hearts & minds.
Scary picture of what it could be like living in a country under the rule of religious zealots. This book is about a group of young women and a professor (Nafisi) that gather to study some of the forbidden literature of the decandent West. What is revealed is the effect of the current ruling regime on these young women as they search for their own uniqueness in a society that seeks to cloth them in sameness.
serinlea reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
Helpful Score: 4
This memoir turned out to be much more about Lolita than it was about Tehran. We get fascinating glimpses of these women's lives -- including a night where Nafisi sits in the hallway outside her children's bedroom, preparing a lecture while Iraqi bombs fall. But these moments of reality, of war and oppression, are sparsely interspersed between lengthy passages of the author's commentary about the books her students were reading. I wanted to hear more about her students' reactions to the works, or of the struggles they faced outside the book club, but I kept turning the page to discover more E. Lit lecturing. I'm sure it didn't help that it's been at least ten years since I read "The Great Gatsby", but honestly, if I'd wanted lit crit, there are a lot of other books I could've picked up instead.
There are two things going on in this book: a look at culture and a look at literature. Of course, the literature is examined by women from a different culture, so the results are even more interesting. Not only is this book well-written, it provides insight into the lives of women living so different a life than us. It is an excellent read. Some may prefer the literature aspect, others the social analysis. Either way, it is a must-read for thinking people.
I wanted to like this more than I did. I've never read 'Lolita', and I didn't feel I was lost because of my lack of reading it, but rather it was as if something was lost in translation...but the author does speak English. Hard to explain, but I kept waiting for "something" to happen - I felt that some hugely dramatic twist was being foreshadowed but it never really came to fruition.
I'm glad I read it - It is an eye-opening story into the lives of these women. While it made me appreciate the fact that I live here in the USA, it also reminded me that people in such repressed countries are still people, and they have more in common with me than I would have expected.
I felt that the author had an inflated sense of her knowledge of literature. Instead of focusing on the relationships and the women in her book club, she spent the book discussing works of literature. It was hard work to read. When the author did come back to the stories of the women, I couldn't remember who they were because it had been so long since we'd focused on them. There are better books out there about life in Iran.
I was disappointed by the âbook reportsâ within this book. I did enjoy the stories she told of her life. The life she led and the things she lived through are unimaginable. I wish she would have delved into them a bit more and left out her feelings and her students feelings on their reads. She also included several clips from the books, which I did not think belonged in there. To be honest, I only made it two thirds of the way through this book before I moved on. It was very easy to put down and walk away from. The chapters are short, so that does make it easy to put down and come back to at a pause point. I would not recommend if you are looking for a quick read.
I was a bit disappointed by this book. I had read so many good things about it, but for me it just didn't live up to it's hype. I found it to be disjointed as it careened between literary essays, tales of oppression in Iran and stories about many of the author's Iranian students.
I did learn a lot about the background and ongoing affects of the Iranian Revolution; especially it's horrifying affects on the women in that society. It also made we want to go reread 'Pride and Prejudice' which isn't a bad thing. But I found myself making deals with myself to get through the book. Things like, "Just read 25 more pages and you can read more of that fun summer read you've started."
I'm glad I finished it, and I think it did get better towards the end as many of the threads and storylines were wrapped up. It did shed new light on the hurdles faced by Iranians in protesting the latest election issues.
I had been interested in reading this for a while, because the story intrigued me - what was it like to read forbidden western books in Iran? From the cover and reviews, I expected the story of this secret class, and of these women's lives in Iran. Instead, this book is primarily a very personal account of the author's life and the literature she reads. There is much ruminating on the boundaries between fiction and life, and a great deal more literary analysis than I expected. Moreover, the whole middle part of the book has nothing to do with the secret class at all, but with the author's teaching experience at Iranian universities.
I suppose there is not all that much we can know about other's lives, especially lives of students. But by trying to convey her literary insights, her feelings about life in Iran, and glimpses of the lives of others, the author primarily succeeded in frustrating me. I was hoping for more of one of these things, rather than fragments of all.
Loved this book. A must read for every mother of a daughter and any woman who cares about women's rights world wide. Americans cannot begin to understand how valuable our freedom is without reading a story like this one. A good beginning book for understanding Arab and Muslim culture.
An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes.
A compelling memoir about teaching Western literature in revolutionary Iran, with profound and fascinating insights into the lives of the extraordinary young women who took great risks to become themselves and the woman who taught them the meaning (and reward) of such risks. I loved it. Makes for a great book club book.
This is a very good book written by an Iranian woman about her life in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. The author uses her experiences as a university professor and leader of a book club to illustrate the struggle of many Iranians of the time to continue to live their lives fully despite growing societal oppression by the fundamentalist Islamic regime. Her students\' study of primarily western literature provides illustration of their struggles.
An interesting, inside look to Iran through the eyes of 1 teacher and her female students. It is helpful to know something about the books mentioned, but not required. A lover of literature and of good writing will find this book a worthwhile read.
This book was one of the most moving books I have read. In such an unconventional way, it stimulated my sense of feminism and patriotism. We truly don't understand the gift we have being women in America until we see how limited women are in some other cultures and how many take those limitations for granted. Our book club is still talking about this book more than two years after we read it.
This was a great look inside Iran, and the oppression that exists there toward women and intellectuals. It was also a really cool "lecture" on several literary classics; she is truly a gifted teacher of literature.
Karen F. reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
Helpful Score: 1
Nafisi gives us a look at the Iranian female's experience during the last twenty years. A professor of British and American literature, she takes you into her classes and lectures during prohibitive and turbulent times. Her writing is eloquent and poignant. A must read for all Americans.
Lana H. reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
Helpful Score: 1
It took me a long time to figure out this book. I had to write notes to keep track of what was going on and who the characters were. By the end of it, I had a handle on the concept she was using but I found it quite difficult to read especially since I didn't have a great literary background.
A sometimes shocking revelation on life in contemporary and historical Iran. Although the title is about the secret book club hosted by the author, the book covers much more than the book club and its members. An educational insight into life as a woman in Iran.
I loved this book! The woman has such strength to fight against so many odds to bring education to women in Iran. I disagree with some of the reviews that it was difficult to get into, but i think it depends on what you are interested in.
Though not exactly what I expected, I truly love this book. I was expecting more of a straight-forward narrative, but this is more like an essay on how post-modern literature parallels with many aspects of life in in post-revolution Iran. Yes, the author throws in quite a bit of her own experiences and what happened in her life, but what truly takes the story forward are the great classics she and her students emerge themselves in. Not exactly a light read, but good food for thought and an interesting way to look at the Islamic Revolution in Iran. I'd recommend it to anyone who's not just looking for fluff.
Along with what other readers have said, I too kept losing interest in this book. It had so much literary criticism on books I either have not read, or don't remember well from long ago.
When she did focus on her life and the lives of her students, it captivated me. Then she'd break off again and i'd drop out. I wanted to hear her story, not a heavy dissection of literature,
I was unable to finish this book. At first I was fascinated with the characters and reason for the book, but eventually i lost interest and was unable to finish the story. i found the book repetitive and long.
I was really excited to get this book, couldn't wait to read it. "A memoir in books you haven't read in years or never will", should have been it"s title. The story was compelling enough. The literature references were too many and overwhelmingly boring, and I've read most of the things the author mentioned. I didn't want a memoir in books, I like my memoirs in people. The characters in this book were so many and so scattered between the ongoing literature class, it was hard to feel the reality of them until the book was nearing it's end. By then I knew it wouldn't get any better but at least I had some empathy for the characters. What kept me reading was knowing these people were real, deserving my attention and respect for what they had lived. I also learned more about the politics of the times in Iran. But here too I sometimes wasn't sure what side the people were on. Or maybe that was the point, the Iranian people were as confused then as I was now reading this book. I think the author Nafisi is probably a very good teacher and maybe even saved the lives of these women in some way. For this she deserves to be honored, for this book, not so much. Sorry.
This book is a "must read". I bought a copy to travel on book-crossing. Azar Nafisi and her students are amazing. I am ever so grateful like Professor Nafisi exist. If you get this book, please do take very good care of it while you're reading it and definitely pass it on to the next reader! I'd like to own audio version so I can hear it as well.
I'm just responding to some reviews from people who were a little put off by Nafisi's literary critiquing the novels that her students studied with her. Though I am definitely not academic, and the novels were not fresh in my mind, I very much enjoyed Nafisi's discussions of the novels and what they meant to her students. Those novels were very much a part of Nafisi's and her students' experiences. Nafisi writes beautifully about the human connection to story telling and how that can help keep up the human spirit. If you are interested in reading about how something like a novel that you read or didn't read made meaning to others, then for you I highly recommend this book.
Marcia H. reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
Helpful Score: 1
Azar Nafisi taught Western Literature in Tehran at a time when Islamic fundamentalists attempted to control every aspect of life in Iran. This is a strong, engrossing story. This memoir describes how literature made sense of life for both teacher and students, and how at times a life situation colors the reading of literature.
The characters live and breathe, and so do the books she teaches. Not once did the author make me feel unprepared, though I have not read most of the famous works she weaves into her story. Maybe now I will.
I never thought too much about reading as a form of freedom until I read this book. A compelling read, which makes me wonder how much has changed or remained the same in Iran since the author's departure in the 1990s.
I wanted so badly to like this book. But I just couldn't get through it. Someday, someone will write a fiction about a book club in Tehran, and it will be full of the excitement and recklessness of defying a tyrannical government. The women will touch us with their heartwarming connections to each other, and they will challenge us to be braver and more devoted friends. Only then will these women's story be truly honored.
The Iranians kicked out the Shah only about thirty years ago, and there is still a ways to go (especially in economic equality, etc), but if people really believe that Americans lived in a more democratic country 30 years after our revolution, I'd suggest they'd ask African or Native peoples alive at that time what they think. The American governments standards of free speech is one that the vast majority of people around, including middle easterners, unfortunately, do not share. However, the day to day lives, and "oppression" of Iranians is quite eskewed by popular books, movies, and magazines. Like many other very wealthy Iranians, "Azar Nafisi" isn't just an objective bystander, with a passion for western literature. There is no such thing as an objective bystander--whether you're a rich Iranian with a daddy who worked for the Shah--or not. Besides, what is so terrible about a head scarf? Women in some societies are't even required to cover their breasts. Are American women more oppressed simply because they are? Every society has slightly different standards for covering. I won't judge the writer just for describing her experiences, but I'd like to see some less unilateral, more analytical accounts of Iranian culture in future widespread media, rather than ones that reinforce well known stereotypes ("Not Without My Daughter" etc).
English instructors will love this book. It is a collection of the author's lectures on the great literary classics. She tries to compare her own emotions and those of her students with the characters in great literature with the day to day oppression women suffer in Iranian culture under hard-line Islamists.
I think she wrote the book more to publicize her class lectures than to emphasize with the unfortunate condition of the women in Iran. I had to drag myself through the book.
I found some of the reviews for this book surprising. I too found it slow going and difficult to read at times, but it is, after all, a memoir in books, so I was prepared to read a lot about books and literary criticism. Azar Nafisi is a professor having taught English literature in Tehran and this book is about her experiences with some of her students as they got together to discuss Western literature. Of course the book focuses on literature, especially Nabokov, but it also focuses on oppression, her students, and what they all went through during this time in Revolutionary Iran, a melancholy analysis of how their lives compared to the lives of those they were reading about. I liked this book, but it may have been easier to read if I had read all of the literature referenced. Literary criticism is the backbone of this book, so if that bores you, this book is not for you.
An amazing account of a college professor's covert attempt to provide a good literary education to intelligent young women (and one man) in mid 1990's Tehran. If you're looking for a straight report on life in Iran, this might not be the book for you. If you're wondering how people try to maintain a good quality of life in repressive regimes, this might give you some insight. Because she is a professor of literature, the book also analyses many classics of Western literature.
As the author warns, the women of the book group are not Lolita, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is not Humbert Humbert. But like the prisoner and her captor, there is a relationship between the book group and their repressive government that transforms them all.
I first picked up this book when it was a paperback best seller (maybe 2004 or 2005?) and had an awful time getting into the book. It's definitely heavy on allusions, and I think that is probably the source of my difficulty. Since then, I've read Lolita, and I read The Great Gatsby years ago, and when I picked up the book last week, the constant references to Nabokov in the first section of the book didn't throw me off.
The book is split into sections defined by the book or author most alluded to, in this order: Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen. I haven't read any of Henry James' or Jane Austen's novels, but I think I'd built up enough interest in the characters in the first two sections to carry me through the rest of the book.
This time around, I enjoyed the book greatly and flew through it in a week. I'd recommend the book strongly, with the disclaimer that you'll enjoy it more if you're very familiar with at least some of the literary allusions.
This book was not an easy read. It was, however, informative, and I am glad that I finished it. It would have been more helpful if I were more familiar with the works of fiction that were discussed in the book. I'd never even heard of the author Nabokov, and I've not read Jane Austen - I'm sure it would have resonated with me more if I'd done so. I also found that I could not keep straight which girl in the "reading group" was which - they all seemed to mesh together. But perhaps that was partly intentional as the Islamic Republic of Iran intended to take away any form of personalization - especially for women. Finally, I found the book to be a powerful statement about how we actually control very little about our own lives, and I felt very blessed to live in the United States of America where I cannot be imprisoned because of the way I dress or the books I read.
The flowing, literate style was delightful to read, but I found myself wishing for more details on the characters--the women who were reading Lolita and other novels--rather than on the books. It felt a little like being back in college literature classes, discussing and dissecting books, but not quite making the connection to real life. Still, a book well worth reading.
Sorry, this was not for me. I love reading books with a strong cultural background but this was very dry and seemed to crawl on forever. I see how the dscussions about Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors and their encouragements to strike out against repression but I felt the subject was overwritten. The book didn't go anywhere for me.
I love reading about the lives of women in other countries and cultures, but this particular book had a bit too much of an emphasis on the literature and the women as readers rather than on their own struggles. (Of course, perhaps I should have expected this from the title of the book!) In any case, I still enjoyed the book very much. The author is a fascinating woman who has also written other works on women in Muslim societies.
Kelly T. reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
A memoir of the author's life in Tehran during the revolution. The irony of being a professor of English literature when Western culture was regarded as evil by the revolutionaries. An interesting read. Definitely shows the freedoms we take for granted in this country.
It is not particularly pleasurable to read. It feels too much like too much work went into writing this book. The character development is weak. It is tough for someone who has never been to Tehran to relate to. I would guess it is critically acclaimed but I'd be shocked if it had widespread public appeal.
Marsha O. reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
I really enjoyed the first part of the book and was reading it on a camping trip-unfortunately, I was sitting in a chair in the river and when I was climbing up onto the bank, I looked down and saw that my book had fallen and was soaking wet and unsalvageable. I need to get another copy but I would encourage those interested in reading it to do so. It is thought provoking and interesting to learn of another culture and the risk these women took to just read classics together. The thoughts and insights of the author, as I said, are very thought provoking. If you like other cultures and thought provoking discussions about women-go for it!
This book is about a time period from my youth. I should have paid attention then, but being young, I didn't. I read this book with great interest at how these woman had to endure just to be able to read! My, aren't we lucky in this great country of ours? A great book and a great, thought provoking read!
I know it's a best seller, but I just could not get into this book. The story was intriguing, but I disliked the author's writing style. I made it about 2/3 of the way through before I gave up, and skipped ahead to read the final chapter. There are better-written books on the subject.
This book is nominally about a group of women who gather in Tehran after the fall of the Shah and the imposition of restrictions on women's movements and activities, to read and discuss Western literature. While that provides a framework, the book is mostly the memoir of their instructor, an Iranian-born, American-educated woman who watches in sorrow and horror as her country descends into chaos, violence, and represseion. Readers who are not familiar with the literary works they discuss may be hampered, and the members of the reading group never achieved full identity for me.
hickgal - reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
I tried and tried but I found this book to be murderously boring. I had a very difficult keeping the young women straight, also. I'm not sure if it's because I had trouble remembering each of their names or if I just didn't care.
Elle H. (Smellen) reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
This was a beautiful book which gave me insight and appreciation for the freedome we have in the US. Azar Nafisi is also an excellent speaker and global citizen. I recommend this book and would read another one of her books in the future. I read this with a book club and that also helped in understanding it. I would recommend for book club reading.
I really expected to like this book. I love learning about other cultures. However I just couldn't get past the focus on Lolita. Lolita is basically (in my opinion) about a pedophile and his victim. I sort of understand why these women choose the book but I expected more villification of Humbert. In the end their choice of books to discuss bothered me so much I decided not to finish the book. The few snippits of information about life in Tehran were interesting though.
This is so informative, particularly now with the unrest going on in Iran. It made me really appreciate the freedom that women have in this country and abhor the horror that so many women face in other countries. I cannot imagine having all of my rights taken away from me. It makes the current riots in Iran that much more poignant and immediate. Changes need to occur now. Women cannot be treated like objects to be abused EVER.
Interesting view into the women's lives during the rise of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Azar Nafasi conducts a book club w/ 7 young women to discuss Western novels, contrasting the characters w/ the women's own lives.
This book initially seems a little bogged down/heavy in the literature analysis of the books they are reading together in Tehran,especially if you haven't read the book mentioned, but once past that first part, I really enjoy the details and storytelling of the women's lives.
This book sounds great; about young women in an oppressive society meeting for an illicit book club. I thought I'd really like it, but I really didn't. It was very pretentious and is overrated. I learned a bit about Iranian history, but not as much as I had hoped and I felt like the book was a bit of an excuse for an Iranian author to capitalize in the current fascination with the middle east.
This is a very interesting book that allows the reader a look inside women's experiences within a very closed Middle Eastern society. Definitely worth reading, especially if you are curious about a country so very much in the news today!
Realy good book. Goes back and forth between past and present so there's a lot to keep track of. I made the mistake of taking a break from this book and when I went back to it I had to reread chapters to remind myself of all the event and characters.
I liked: How do U know when your country is being taken over by facists? I've been wondering that for a long time. Nafisi tells that through watching it happen. Her story against the background of the takeover of Tehran. Now I understand.
Didn't like: Verbose. Too much of a professor talking to students ie me. Distant, lack of emotion. I am ordering her next book which, hopefully will include me, the reader into the emotions of her life.
This is a must-read! A memoir about teaching Western literature in revolutionary Iran. The author takes you into the lives of 8 women who must meet in secret to explore the forbidden fiction of the West.
This book was chosen for my bookclub. I was fascinated by the topic of this book, however I could not read more than 2 pages at a time in this book. The story has potential but is unfortunately very boring. I did not finish this book and do not intend to.
A disturbing and thought-provoking book, it makes you want to dig out all those classics you should have read but never did. Her students overcame incredible odds to have a taste of knowledge and freedom.
This book provided a lot of insight into a woman's life in Tehran. However she jumped around a lot in the book from current time to times where she taught at college and all of that in between. I was under the impression the book would be centered around these women reading classics that were forbidden in Tehran yet most of it was about her and how she felt about things. I felt a little dissapointed. Still it is a book worth reading.
I started this book but could not get into it. I felt like I needed to have read the books that she talks about. It seems like it is a great piece for people who are into lit and maybe I'll read the books and try again but right now the book just wasn't a good fit.
One woman's effort to help the women of Iran learn of the world through books.It is a memoir of a professor from Iran, now teaching in the states.
You will fall in love with the students as well as the teacher, and totally enjoy the critiques of the books they read, which you, no doubt have also read.
Not what I thought it would be. I was hoping for more of a look at life in post Revolution Iran. And while there is indeed some of that, it's more like sitting in on a book club's meeting...only you haven't read the book and can't join the discussion. "Daughter of Persia" or "Honeymoon in Purdah" were much more interesting as far as looking at life in Iran.
I consider myself a relatively uninformed American regarding Iran and it's history or current situation. Other than a friend I worked with ("I am Persian" she said with pride.), I had very little personal attachment or knowledge of the country.
Last summer just around the time I signed up for Twitter, I began following OxfordGirl during the Iranian unrest that began then. I read about their attempts to organize and being clubbed by Basiji on motorcycles, dressed in black. I saw the videos that made it out of the things they spoke of. I made my location appear as if it was from Iran as well in order to shield those who were there from being dragged out of their apartments at night once the government figured out who had Twitter acces or had submitted cell phone video to the world. I saw the Nadia video as it came out and was nauseous and incredulous that I had watched her death.
I read as OxfordGirl moved from not wanting to call what was happening in Iran a "revolution" (Sea of Green it was referred to first), then wanting just Ahmahdinajad removed, then some clerics and Ahmadi, and then desire for a secular government and calling themselves the Green Revolution.
The voice of Azar Nafisi in tis book and OxfordGirl have become one to me, because they both deal with the same fights, the same subtle but soul-killing indignities. Tehran University, where the author taught, had a big green metal double gate that marked the entrance to the university, but only the men could enter there. Beside it was a narrow black-curtain covered doorway and women were stripped down to assure that they dressed in appropriate ways. Did a strand of hair fall out from under the chador? Their faces were wiped to discover the remanants of makeup. Nail polish was checked for.
Azar's young sixth grade daughter was lead to the principals office to be checked, her nails clipped so short that they bled. Her friend was accused of eating an apple in a provacative way.
At the same time, Azar is an English professor and carries such a love of literature that it is difficult, even for me, an English major in school, to understand. She idolizes the literature and constantly see the connections in it to their lives in Tehran.
Because she was considered a Westernized trouble-maker because she had attended college in the United States, she was constantly monitored and harrassed as she taught. Minders attended her classes, criticizing novel choices and her teaching methods. When she finally quit her teaching, she decided to finally have the class she had always wanted with a hand-picked group of her best students, meeting at her home. Each day they arrived, having to be accompanied by their fathers, husbands or brothers or they may end up in the worse prison in Tehran. Only in her apartment did they dare take off their chador. The novel begins remarking of the transformation of these girls, who became women in the six years of the class, from amorphous black-chador-clad indistinguishable icons --to brightly dressed, blue-jeaned women.
I may have had more patience for the English literature-inspired commentary running through the novel. In fact, having never read Lolita, I wonder if I will interpret it the way all others have--a promiscuous child seducing a man, or a monster 40 year old man abusing and 12 year old girl, not listening to her crying, accusing her of being the sin that was in his soul. The novel becomes the central image that represents the society: the unbridled sexual abuse of men who projected their own misshapen souls onto the women around them.
This is a Persian Baby Boomer with much of the idealism of the hippy generation--transplanted back to Iran. In one critical chapter, Iran is likened to The Great Gatsby where all one's hopes and distorted realities are seen in what they do not have. The realist in me feels it will never be the vision of Iran they have vaguely see in their imaginations. It will confound them, destroy them if they are not allowed to actually live without having to kill off the feeling part of them in order to survive in the society. There is another chapter (or many) to be written.
this was my 100th and final book of 2009 :-) and i really really enjoyed it! the back cover description was a bit misleading. i thought the story was about a group of women who got together and read novels. the beginning and ending and parts of the middle were about the group of women, but there was so much more to this book. nafisi was a teacher in iran during the war and revolution and the book is about her life and how novels she read and taught were parallel to life in iran. it was such a great story-a great way to end the year. she has a list of suggested books to read and i took a lot of books from there. great great read!!
Selma A. reviewed Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books on
I found this book to be tediously boring. The author gave a lot of interesting information about the revolution in Iran, and I truly felt for the women who suffered the indignities of the Revolutionary Guard. What was boring was the incessant explanations that only a university professor or English teacher could give on the juxtoposition of each novel discussed in the book in relation to the experiences of the author. I think Mrs. Nafisi's memoir would have been more effective if she left the literature out and just gave us her point of view on the political turmoil that she and her students suffered.
Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bol and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squards 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 Fitzgearld, Henry James and Valdaimir 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.
This is the story of a teacher who secretly holds classes in her home in Iran. The female students who risk a great deal to attend these book group sessions take tremendous risks to participate in an oppressive, stifling culture.
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 extroadinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. This book is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.
Was given this book by a friend who loved it. Tried reading but just could not get into it. Thought I would be able to learn more about this culture and the women who live there. I was very disappointed. Author jumps all around and basically I found it a boring read. I am sure there are more informative books written about this country and their culture/customs.
I loved this book!! It is a fascinating "behind closed doors" view of the women of Tehran.... all sorts of them. It is the true story of an English professor holding a book discussion group secretly so that they can read Western Classics.