Reading Lolita Author Visits Mason

Posted: March 3, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

For two years in the mid-1990s, Azar Nafisi met with seven students every Thursday in post-revolutionary Iran to read and discuss forbidden Western literary classics. Her book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, published in 2003, is a memoir of that experience and has received much critical acclaim. Nafisi will read and discuss the book and her experiences during a special event sponsored by the English Department and the Fairfax County Public Library on Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall on the Fairfax Campus. It is free and open to the public.

Reading Lolita in Tehran, which offers a glimpse of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from women in Tehran, tracks the group of students as they read classics such as The Great Gatsby, Lolita, and Pride and Prejudice. “Anyone who has ever belonged to a book group must read this book,” says author Geraldine Brooks about the book. “Azar Nafisi takes us into the vivid lives of eight women who must meet in secret to explore the forbidden fiction of the West. It is at once a celebration of the power of the novel and a cry of outrage at the reality in which these women are trapped. The ayatollahs don’t know it, but Nafisi is one of the heroes of the Islamic Republic.”

Nafisi is a visiting fellow and professorial lecturer at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. She has earned international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectuals, youth, and especially young women. She was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil in 1981, and did not resume teaching until 1987. She has lectured and written extensively in English and Persian on the political implications of literature and culture as well as on the human rights of Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran and other Muslim societies.

For more information about the event, contact the English Department at 703-993-1160.

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