July 2, 2009

Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi

I usually request a book in advance from the library, but in this case, I was browsing the shelves in hope of finding something and thought I'd give this book a shot.

Azar Nafisi is an academic, not a creative writer, and it shows in this memoir. It's supposed to be about a secret class she taught at home in Iran, but it's also about her own life (studying in America, then getting married and returning to Tehran) and the struggles she had teaching American literature in Islamic Iran. Often it veers into academic dissertations on the authors she teaches, like Nabokov and Fitzgerald. I found this boring, especially since I've never read Nabokov, and I preferred the stories of the injustices against Iranians. It was quite a timely read too, considering the protests happening in Iran now. I still think about her recountings of women getting reprimanded for eating apples too seductively, or getting beaten because some of their hair was showing and a man reported them because that turned him on. How is that their fault? It's so sexist there.

So basically, she's not very good at writing dialogue and all the girls in her class blurred together for me, and my eyes glazed over when she went into a treatise on Austen, but reading about what is happening in Iran made the book worthwhile.

1 comment:

Erin said...

I totally agree with your review. It took me a long time to read this book because of the academic bits. That said, I still think about it too, even though I read it over a year ago.

Also: I had my grandma's copy, and she wrote notes throughout it, so that was cute.