Posted on Saturday, September 24th, 2005 at 6:41 pm under Memoir/Journal, Nonfiction

Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Author: Azar Nafisi
Genre: Autobiography/Literary Criticism

Why I liked this book:

This book is difficult to describe because it is about so many different things at once. On one level, it is an amazing account of an oppressed, educated, contemporary, group of women, who possess the courage to hold secret meetings where they study banned books under an increasingly intolerant government. As they arrive for each meeting, most of them remove the veil that they are forced to cover their faces with in public. During these meetings they discuss forbidden books, talk about their own lives, and debate about religion, politics, and the wearing of the veil. Nafisi flashes back often and rounds out the story by describing what it was like for her to live as a “privileged” professor of literature during the bombings and ever stricter laws imposed on women in Iran during the Islamic revolution.

On another level, the book contains a lot of astute literary criticism. It sheds light on possible interpretations of Nabokov’s Lolita, and even made me want to try reading some of the other books that were discussed. The literary criticism sections of this book were more interesting when they were discussing books that I had read, but even the discussions about the other books were still interesting and related to the narrative of the story.

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