A compelling and sympathetic book,
This review is from: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (Paperback)The book is unique in that it is a memoir and a commentary on literary works. It is about the writer's life in Tehran, during the eighties and the nineties and interspersed in her memoir are her comments on western literature and authors such as Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James and Jane Austen. I believe the writer was trying to let the reader see a link between fiction and reality.
The first few pages led me to believe that the book was going to be about the members of the secret book discussion group which met at the writer's house for two years. The theme of the writer's English literature classes was the relation between fiction and reality.
I was fascinated by the writer's experiences: teaching western literature during a time when anything western was labeled indecent and decadent, surviving the eight year war between Iraq and Iran and deciding to migrate to United States. The book opened my eyes about the strength and courage of Middle Eastern women and in particular, Iranian women.
Nafisi painted a picture of religion being used as an instrument of power that intruded in the personal lives of Iranians after the departure of the Shah. There was an example of some young ladies being reprimanded for eating apples too seductively. She painted a clear picture of chaos in education at the university level where leftists and Islamists frequently clashed on campus reflecting the drama and chaos in the Iranian society where the leftists, Islamists and Monarchists battled each other.
Ultimately, this is a well-written and wonderful book. Not only is it about survival of the human spirit, it's a book that celebrate many passions, reading among them. Pick up a copy! Another very different, but highly enjoyable recent Amazon purchase I enjoyed was The Losers Club: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez