spectating participant

June 29, 2005

Book Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 3:19 pm

a book by Azar Nafisi.

I am still reading this book but figured that I better review what I can now before I forget. This a true story.

The first section of this book talks about the reading group the author formed for several women in Theran, Iran. It starts in the time when modesty laws and modesty police were in effect, that the veil was being enforced along with many other restrictions on women behaviors. THe majority of the first section focuses on the texts that they read and it feels much more like a book review of those stories than a story of it’s own. I got tired of reading these reviews and rushed along to the end of this sections. However, I did go to the library and order the books that were mentioned in the section because from her comments, they sounded like something I should read. She mentioned: Lolita, Invitation to a Beheading, and The Great Gatsby, and perhaps others.

The second sections focuses on her experience when she was still teaching at the University before the new modesty laws were in place and enforced. She does an excellent job showing the movement in Iran at the time and what people were doing and feeling and how people like her responded to the restrictions being place. I found it very powerful to read, thinking that something like that could happen here as well. If you read her account then you might also see how it could.

I look forward to finishing this book.

Update: I did eventually finish it and felt that it didn’t really live up to my expectations. The constant addition of critiques of the literary novels really got in the way. I understand the reason she wrote it that way, especially seeing as how that is one of her professional/academic interests, but it really left me wondering more about the people involved and wishing that she’d just stop talking about the stories. So, overall, it is really my expectations that fault the book — not the book in and of itself. If someone with different expectations read this story, they would probably get a lot more out of it.