Author Azar Nafisi tells her story by recounting the books she shared with her students. A gifted teacher, Nafisi, grows up in a liberated Iran, only to have the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini reverse any gains women in Iran had made towards independence and personal freedom. After being "expelled" from the University where she taught, the author decides to start a book club for a select group of women who meet in her home, free from censors and the eyes of men.
"Again and again as we discussed Lolita
in that class, our discussions were colored by my student's hidden personal sorrows and joys. Like tearstains on a letter, these forays into the hidden and the personal shaded all our discussions of Nabakov (Lolita). And more and more I thought of that butterfly;what linked us so closely was this perverse intimacy of victim and jailer."
"Curiously the novels we escaped into led us finally to question and prod our own realities, about which we felt so utterly speechless."Reading Lolita in Tehran
has not only given me a greater understanding of the classics (an education I seemed to have missed when studying literature in high school or undergraduate school), but a real appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy as women in the United States. This book was not an easy read (and I admit I took a few breaks to digest and escape into other books)but well worth the journey.