Reading Lolita in Tehran is not just another book about suppression of women. The unique style of writing by intertwining fiction and reality adds a distinct freshness to the story, making it a moving testament of the power of art and its ability to change people’s lives.
Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait, a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It looks into the injustices andcruel torture that women have to silently bear with; it ridicules the education system existing at that time, which was obsessed with the color of one’s lips and the subversive potential of a single strand of hair rather than being concerned about the quality of education, it mocks the laws which distorts man-woman relations by trying to make half the population invisible.
Stealing the words of Humbert, the poet/ criminal of Lolita, Azar Nafisi asks the reader to imagine the seven students and her against the tyranny of time and politics, to imagine them as they have never dared to imagine themselves: in their private and secret moments, in the most extraordinary ordinary instances of life, listening to music, falling in love, walking down shady streets or just reading Lolita in Tehran. And then to imagine them with all this confiscated, driven underground. The desperate truth of Lolita’s story is reality for the women of Tehran: Confiscation of their lives which have become a figment of someone else’s dreams. Nafisi refers to these women as double victims because not only their life but also their life story is taken away from them”
However Nafisi’s new memoir is a riveting story of hope, disillusionment, and hope rekindled.
Sanhita Sinha Chowdhury