nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Indie for the Holidays egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Get Ready for the Winter Gifts Under $50 Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Gift Card Offer bf15 bf15 bf15 $30 Off Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals Outdoors Gift Guide on DOTD Automotive Holiday Deals Books Holiday Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $18.00
  • Save: $4.77 (27%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Reading Lolita in Tehran:... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Solid used copy with visible wear.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 4, 2008

554 customer reviews

See all 28 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Paperback, Deckle Edge, November 4, 2008
$3.89 $0.49

Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
$13.23 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
  • +
  • Lolita
Total price: $22.96
Buy the selected items together

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more

Editorial Reviews Review

An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes.

Threaded into the memoir are trenchant discussions of the work of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors who provided the women with examples of those who successfully asserted their autonomy despite great odds. The great works encouraged them to strike out against authoritarianism and repression in their own ways, both large and small: "There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom," she writes. In short, the art helped them to survive. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This book transcends categorization as memoir, literary criticism or social history, though it is superb as all three. Literature professor Nafisi returned to her native Iran after a long education abroad, remained there for some 18 years, and left in 1997 for the United States, where she now teaches at Johns Hopkins. Woven through her story are the books she has taught along the way, among them works by Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and Austen. She casts each author in a new light, showing, for instance, how to interpret The Great Gatsby against the turbulence of the Iranian revolution and how her students see Daisy Miller as Iraqi bombs fall on Tehran Daisy is evil and deserves to die, one student blurts out. Lolita becomes a brilliant metaphor for life in the Islamic republic. The desperate truth of Lolita's story is... the confiscation of one individual's life by another, Nafisi writes. The parallel to women's lives is clear: we had become the figment of someone else's dreams. A stern ayatollah, a self-proclaimed philosopher-king, had come to rule our land.... And he now wanted to re-create us. Nafisi's Iran, with its omnipresent slogans, morality squads and one central character struggling to stay sane, recalls literary totalitarian worlds from George Orwell's 1984 to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Nafisi has produced an original work on the relationship between life and literature.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reissue edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812979303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (554 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Azar Nafisi is a professor at John Hopkins University. She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal among others, and is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov's Novels. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

588 of 626 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on July 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Reading the reviews and the dust jacket, you can get the idea that this is a book about a book club. For this reader, it is more directly about the impact of the Islamic revolution on the lives of educated women in Iran. There women are required at the risk of their lives to wear the "veil," which symbolizes the surrender of their independence to a government that uses fear and intimidation to control them and, in the words of the author, make them "irrelevant."
The author, now living in the US, tells of almost two decades in Iran, as a teacher of English and American literature. She tells of the great hopes for reform after the fall of the Shah and the return from exile of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and with her we watch in horror as the revolution takes Iran by force instead into its medieval past. There are arrests, murders, and executions and those who can, flee to the West. The transformation of Iran is charted by the repressive attempts to make women invisible, by covering them in public from head to toe. It becomes a world in which wearing fingernail polish, even under gloves, is a punishable offense. And punishment, as we learn, is typically brutal.
The author escapes from this violence into the imaginative world of Western novels (from Nabokov to Dashiell Hammet) where she finds democratic ideals expressed in fiction's ability to help us empathize with other people. For her, it is the heart that has gone out of the gun-wielding moral police that want to sweep away all but complete submission to their fundamentalist form of Islam. And while she is a teacher, she must deal with classes filled with students who have been polarized by the political forces around them. All, curiously, are in single agreement that the West is corrupt and absolutely evil.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
136 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Powell on July 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Azar Nafisi has written a brilliant, moving, and frightening book. As a professor of English literature at Tehran University, she provides a unique perspective on the Iranian revolution that changed the world.
She considers herself an intellectual. She marched against the west and the USA support of the Shah of Iran. She tells of the joy that she and her colleagues felt at his fall. She tells of the changes in everyday life for intellectuals and for women as the Islamists took over the country. She left her job at the university (a job that she loved) because she refused to wear the veil. She tells of the effects of the eight year long Iraq/Iran war on the women of Tehran, the tyranny of the religious leaders who issue their decrees as though they came directly from God.
Nafisi's story is one of change, tyranny, fascism, and the failure in the 20th century to defend women when their identity and their humanity are stolen in the name of religion. It is also the story of personal courage, intelligence, commitment, and love.
Nafisi lead a book discussion group for a select group of women in her home in Tehran before leaving Iran. The forbidden fruit that they read was Lolita, Pride and Prejudice, Daisy Miller, and the Great Gatsby! They risked so much to do this; they risked imprisonment, beatings, rape, and perhaps execution.
She tells her story and some of the stories of her students through these group discussions. She has changed the name of the women that are still alive to protect them. She tells one of her student's stories. While in prison she knew of guards who repeatedly raped a young beautiful girl. They justified this punishment because their heinous acts would deny her access to heaven.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
80 of 86 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book for a variety of reasons and I was rewarded on every level. It gave me insight into the world of Islamic Fundamentalism through the lives of some of the women who are forced to live according to its tenets; it increased my understanding of an important historical movement; it gave me some wonderful and nuanced insights into some favorite works of literature; and I was able to share the author's growth through very tumultuous times. This memoir is beautifully and suspensefully written--one really comes to care deeply about these brave women. Questions of courage and indentity are at the core of this book--how does one relate to a repressive regime without effacing oneself? This book is a journey that illuminates some of the conflicts at the core of our current age. I encourage you to read it!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Andi Miller on January 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a really good quality book. I found many parts touching, and I enjoyed the insight into the lives of the students with whom Nafisi met on a weekly basis to discuss controversial literature. Nafisi is a very interesting person and an impeccable writer. My only criticism (and it's more a matter of personal taste than anything)....I got very bogged down in the middle. I wanted to learn more about Nafisi's students. I assumed that they would be the main focus of the book from reading the blurb on the cover. The first and last sections focused mostly on the women's gatherings, but the middle sections focused mostly on the war situation in Iran. Not that that particular part wasn't interesting (in fact it was absolutely necessary to illustrate the state of the Islamic Republic), but I just found myself more captivated by the struggles and opinions of the women. I greatly enjoyed reading the insight into some of my favorite novels including The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice. I also added plenty of works to my growing wishlist based on the commentary between Nafisi and her students.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
This item: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Price: $13.23
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: anything in reading