It is the story of women and books and literary figures and characters amidst oppression and censure. In truth, this book is a slow read for me. The number of times I picked it up and dropped again seemed too many to mention over the course of weeks (was it months?). Perhaps it may be said that this book is better when taken in small doses. As a woman living in a freer nation, I could almost take for granted the rights given to me as opposed to women pictured in the book. I am wrought with puzzlement and burden (and annoyance) as I manage to finish each chapter. Its fragmented narratives make it quite difficult to piece the story together in a timely manner but that is not really the core of this memoir for in the end it won't matter. Faith and beliefs are more important and shown to us the lengths people will go to to pursue it.
The pages are stained with numerous tragedy, deep suffering and atrocities one living in a free world couldn't begin to imagine. I could ignore that certain snobbery pervading on the memoir's voice and maybe a lot of (stronger and bigger) things can mold us into different characters but I couldn't ignore the kind of society they must live through all for the name of somebody's dream. The students of the professors are varying and as their lives are slowly revealed to us through their discussions of Nabokov and Austen and James, they become closer to the readers and more interesting. A lot of events are left in mystery but how could I ask for more when they themselves had enough of it.
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 universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils and immersed and themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir 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.
Book Title: Reading Lolita in Tehran
Author: Azar Nafisi
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Historical
Published: 2003 Paperback
Publisher: Random House Trade
Rating: ♨♨♨ (3 cups - The literary discussions of the students are somewhat fun, severe and eye-rolling at times including the professor herself. But the book is more than that. It is a brief glimpse of Tehran in a period of tyranny which we could all learn a thing or two.)