Nafisi's account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi's class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of "the Great Satan", she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.
Azar Nafisi's luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.
©2003 Azar Nafisi; (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC
"This book transcends categorization as memoir, literary criticism, or social history, though it is superb as all three." (Publishers Weekly)
"Nafisi's determination and devotion to literature shine through, and her book is an absorbing look at primarily Western classics through the eyes of women and men living in a very different culture." (Booklist)
"Remarkable...an eloquent brief on the transformative power of fiction." (The New York Times)
"A spirited tribute both to the classics of world literature and to resistance against oppression." (Kirkus Reviews)
Fabulous experience - not only does the book evoke wonderful scenes from an apartment in Tehran, but it also tackles difficult issues for Iran and women throughout the world. It is also beautifully read. We listened to this during a 5 day road trip from Canada to Mexico and could hardly wait to be back in the car for the next episode!
I was very disappointed with this book. I loved Lolita and figured I would love this book too. The story is about a group of women from Iran, who met (in secret) to discuss classical books. So it touched on the classics; it touched on the political and sociological problems of Iran; it touched on the life of the teacher and that was it. Just touches here and there. It was weak. I don't know what the big deal was about this book and how it became so popular. I don't recommend this book.
This book is a combination of literary criticism, personal history and cultural insight. I learned so much about Iran and its recent history through the lives of the individuals I met, as well as by looking at western literature through Persian eyes. And that in itself taught me something about western literature and culture. I was sorry to get to the end of the book.
The narrator was pleasant, unobtrusive.
Be kind to someone today.
I read just about every work referenced in the book so it was extra enjoyable. I almost felt part of the reader's group. I feel I understand that ancient part of the world a little better. I read it last year and still think about it regularly. Haunting. I'm thinking about reading it again.
I couldn't get past the first hour of this book. I have never abandoned an audiobook before, but this was painful. Within the first hour, the author had rehashed the same information over and over again, until I finally retreated. Normally I love the little details of a story, but her attention to detail went above and beyond the normal. I was so disappointed as I had heard good things about this book.
A well written book. I liked the parts about Iran, but I found the literary criticism and analysis very tedious. It felt like being back in school. . . If you are going to read this book, you should first be sure to read the books that she weaves into the story, Lolita, Gatsby, etc.
For some reason I found the beginning of this so slow. It was just introductions of people, descriptions of places, and some basic history. Necessary, but kind of boring. It does get better, eventually, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people have trouble wih the first hour or so.
Not knowing much about Iran, I feel I learned alot about the Iranian people and the revolution from this book. Nafisi weaves a great narrative with personal stories about herself and her friends and students. I personally could have done with less of the literary review that was omnipresent and a bit detailed at times. I agree with another reviewer that the narrator's voice gives life to the story, but her accent (it was almost pretentious in the pronounciation) did get a little grating toward the end. Definitely worth a listen if you want to know more about life in Iran for almost two decades after the revolution.
I have to agree with the article in the Washington Post entitled "Sorry, Wrong Chador": this book has very little to do with Iran today, and is really about Nafisi herself.
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