Archive for March, 2005

Azar Nafisi, ‘Reading “Lolita” in Tehran’

Azar Nafisi, ‘Reading “Lolita” in Tehran’

We had our first ‘in public’ bookgroup in Shakespeares Hotel Surry Hills. A good old fashioned pub, with a smattering of locals and plenty of room for us and enough noise that we weren’t conspicuous but not enough noise that we had to raise our voices.

The book prompted lots of discussion about what its like to live in an islamic theocracy and to live through a revolution, and in a repressive regime.

There was also plenty of discussion about dress codes, the treatment of women and the commonalities between various fundamentalisms – christian, jewish, islamic. It seemed to us it was about the assurance they give fundamentalists that they as individuals are important, because they are headed to an afterlife. To fundamentalists living without such assurance requires more effort to find something of value to both make life meaningful, and to make them as individuals feel important.

I enjoyed the discussion even though i didn’t get to read the book. i geuss partly because it covered some of the same ground as the rushdie book (Satanic Verses) so it wasn’t unfamiliar.

Interestingly people found the book easy to talk about even though many thought the writing was fairly dodgy because it was trying to hard to be ‘literary’. In the same way that ‘the riders’ captured peoples interest due to the opportunity to get inside a character this book similarly seemed to give readers the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes. Similarly, bookgroupers enjoyed ‘Stasiland’ for much the same reason, to be able to say – ‘is that what it is/was really like’.


March 13, 2005 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment


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