Azar Nafisi is a writer and professor of English from Iran, who became an American citizen in 2008 and is counted among the noted Iranian writers of the modern genera-tion. She was born in an influential family in Tehran in 1979 and studied at Switzerland before going on to earn her doctorate from University of Oklahoma. She became an English teacher at Tehran University but due to the deteriorating situation in Iran, she left the country and moved to America. It was after moving to the United States that she started writing extensively. Her very first book titled ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books’ was widely appreciated due to the first hand experiences that she narrated about life in Iran for secular women. It remains her most well-known work besides few others that include; ‘Things I’ve Been Silent About’, ‘The Republic of Imagination’ and ‘Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels’. Nafisi has continued to be a teacher and is currently involved with the Foreign Policy Institute at John Hopkins University of Advanced International Studies in the capacity of visiting lecturer. Nafisi is without doubt a hugely influential writer and a great thinker who has expressed her mind over several issues through her life and work. Here is a collection of thoughts and quotations by Azar Nafisi on reading, books, insights, novels, society and insecurities.
Memories have ways of becoming independent of the reality they evoke. They can soften us against those we were deeply hurt by or they can make us resent those we once accepted and loved unconditionally.
It takes courage to die for a cause, but also to live for one.
I no longer believe that we can keep silent. We never really do, mind you. In one way or another we articulate what has happened to us through the kind of people we become.
A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
I could have told him to learn from Gatsby. from the lonely, isolated Gatsby, who also tried to retrieve his past and give flash and blood to a fancy, a dream that was never meant to be more than a dream.
It's frightening to be free, to have to take responsibility for your decisions.
The reason I am so popular is that I give others back what they need to find in themselves. You need me not because I tell you what I want you to do but because I articulate and justify what you want to do.
Hope for some means its loss for others; when the hopeless regain some hope, those in power--the ones who had taken it away--become afraid, more protective of their endangered interests, more repressive.
My impulse now, as then, is to disagree. The majority of people in this country who haunt bookstores, go to readings and book festivals or simply read in the privacy of their homes are not traumatized exiles.
This is Tehran for me: its absences were more real than its presences
Lots of times you can feel as an exile in a country that you were born in.
What we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.
Teaching is a funny business; you want to share these glimpses of something real and profound, but half the time students want only to know their next assignment and what they will need to study for the test.
The only way to leave the circle, to stop dancing with the jailer, is to find a way to preserve one's individuality, that unique which evades description but differentiates one human being from the other.
Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life.
So few American novels have happy endings. Perhaps this is not surprising in a nation whose declaration of independence provides its citizens not with the right to happiness, but the right to its pursuit.
Dreams,Mr.Nazari,are perfect ideals,complete in themselves.
Did you ever dream this could happen to us? He said, No I didn't, but I should have. After we all helped create this mess, we were not doomed to have the Islamic Republic. And in a sense, he was right.
The way we view fiction is a reflection of how we define ourselves as a nation. Works of the imagination are canaries in the coal mine, the measure by which we can evaluate the health of the rest of society.
It is amazing how, when all possibilities seem to be taken away from you, the minutest opening can become a great freedom.