Reading Lolita in Tehran
Authored by Azar Nafisi, this non-fiction novel should be on your to-read list for its inspiring and insightful accounts of how being educated empowers the suppressed to risein life.
Nafisi’s ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ gives the reader a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. The book is set in those times when the Islamic morality squads were carrying out raids in Tehran, fundamentalists forcibly took hold of the universities and censorship became aggressive with artistic expression being compromised.The book encapsulates the journey of defying oppressive rule and celebration of the liberating power that education has.
The book starts with Nafisi, a bold and passionate teacher, secretly gathering seven female students of hers to read forbidden Western classics. Some of these students came from conservative and religious families while others came from a more progressive and secular family setup. Some have even spent some time in jail. This goes on for two years.
These reading session did not merely have an impact on their reading skills, butit brought about a huge difference in their personalities; in the way they thought, and in their outlook towards things around them. Initially, they were uncomfortable and shy in putting forth their opinions and taking a stand. But soon they began speaking their mind, about their dreams and disappointments, illustrating how literature strikes a chord across the boundaries and time. Their stories intertwined with the novels they were reading by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov.
Reading Lolita in Tehran is a testimony of how being exposed to education has, and can change lives for better. The book has been a number one New York Times bestseller and has been published in thirty-two languages.