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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (2003)

by Azar Nafisi

Other authors: Marie-Hélène Dumas (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,428253392 (3.61)436
This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. They were unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Nafisi's account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl or protests and demonstrations. Azar Nafisi's tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran.… (more)
  1. 91
    Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (Eustrabirbeonne, kgodey)
  2. 80
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (hsanch)
    hsanch: A parallel kind of story. Fundamentalist's come in many flavors and women often get the short end. A chilling a well-paced tale.
  3. 40
    A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (readerbabe1984)
  4. 30
    The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (bertilak)
  5. 31
    Things I've Been Silent About: Memories by Azar Nafisi (AuraNefertari)
  6. 10
    Jews Without Money by Michael Gold (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: The work that inspired Azar Nafisi's political thinking in relation to literature.
  7. 10
    Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir by Marina Nemat (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Non-fiction: teenager sentenced to death for 'political crimes' in 1982, but who lived to tell her story.
  8. 21
    The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad (unlucky)
  9. 10
    Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour (the_awesome_opossum)
  10. 00
    Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Another woman's experience in Iran, albeit more sensational.
  11. 00
    The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi (kerryperry42)
  12. 12
    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (readerbabe1984)
  13. 01
    Dentelles et tchador : La vie dans l'Iran des mollahs by Armin Arefi (Eustrabirbeonne)

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» See also 436 mentions

English (244)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (252)
Showing 1-5 of 244 (next | show all)
I am now inspired to read Austen and James , and to reread Gatsby and Lolita. ( )
  NAgis | May 6, 2020 |
I liked this more than I thought I would. There are major spoilers for some popular classics though! Most notably the Great Gatsby. I haven't read the book but I saw a play for it the Saturday before I started this and if I hadn't seen it then I would have been majorly spoiled and upset! Otherwise it was a very interesting insite to women in Iran. ( )
  KayIS813 | Mar 27, 2020 |
Includes Reading Group guide. ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 20, 2020 |
My two words: self aggrandizement. This book is nothing more than literature lectures, and those are not even that interesting! Author's words: "I'm in academia and I like to pontificate." Not much about Lolita, but large amounts about Fitzgerald (the Great Gatsby) and James (Daisy Miller-literally like almost 100 pages). Meh 400 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Feb 21, 2020 |
Few memoirs have spoken to me or invoked such deep thought as this one. Like the author, I am an avid reader and I have read many of the same authors, if not the same books she discusses in this memoir. By relating how these works of literature took on new meanings as she taught and met with students in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the works themselves become richer and the lives of their readers take on an added beauty. The life of one's imagination is something Nafisi focuses on, to the extent that she eventually doesn't really seem to be living in Iran at all, but in the books she reads. Of course, this is a real story, not a fictional one, so it ends with a more real exit from a repressive land. If you love books and the experience of reading, I highly recommend this memoir. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jan 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 244 (next | show all)
The charismatic passion in the book is not simply for literature itself but for the kind of inspirational teaching of it which helps students to teach themselves by applying their own intelligence and emotions to what they are reading.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Paul Allen (Sep 13, 2003)
[A]n eloquent brief on the transformative powers of fiction--on the refuge from ideology that art can offer to those living under tyranny, and art's affirmative and subversive faith in the voice of the individual.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Times, Michiko Kakutani (Mar 15, 2003)
A spirited tribute both to the classics of world literature and to resistance against oppression.
added by jburlinson | editKirkus (Feb 15, 2003)

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nafisi, Azarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dumas, Marie-HélèneTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flothuis, MeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García de la Hoz, María LuzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lambert, J. K.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To whom do we tell what happened on the Earth, for whom we place everywhere huge Mirrors in the hope that they will be filled up And will stay so? -Czeslaw Milosz, "Annalena"
In memory of my mother, Nezhat Nafisi
for my father, Ahmad Nafisi,
and my family: Bijan, Negar and Dara Naderi.
First words
In the fall of 1995, after resigning from my last academic post, I decided to indulge myself and fulfill a dream.
What we search for in literature is not much reality but the epiphany of truth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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