TCC Literary festival 2006
Profile (supplied by author and agent)
|AZAR NAFISI - April 3, 7 p.m. - Keynote address, book signing - Norfolk Campus/TCC Roper Performing Arts Center
AZAR NAFISI, professor and best-selling author, is best known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students.Earning high acclaim and an enthusiastic readership, Reading Lolita in Tehran is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. The book has spent over 70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list to date.Reading Lolita in Tehran has been translated in 32 languages, and has won diverse literary awards, including the 2004 Non-fiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, the 2004 Latifeh Yarsheter Book Award, an achievement award from the American Immigration Law Foundation, as well as being a finalist for the 2004 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Memoir.
Azar Nafisi is a Visiting Professor and the director of the SAIS Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University'’ School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics. Azar Nafisi held a fellowship at Oxford University, teaching and conducting a series of lectures on culture and the important role of Western literature and culture in Iran after the revolution in 1979. She taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabai before her return to the United States in 1997 – earning national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectuals, youth and especially young women. She was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil in 1981, and did not resume teaching until 1987.
Azar Nafisi conducted workshops in Iran for women students on the relationship between culture and human rights; the material culled from these workshops formed the basis of a new human rights education curriculum. She has lectured and written extensively in English and Persian on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of the Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran. She has been consulted on issues related to Iran and human rights both by the policy makers and various human rights organizations in the US and elsewhere. She is also involved in the promotion of not just literacy, but of reading books with universal literary value.
Azar Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Her cover story, “The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution’s Woman Problem” published in The New Republic (Feb. 22, 1999) has been reprinted into several languages. She is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels. She also wrote the new introduction to the Modern Library Classics edition of Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad, as well as the introduction to Iraj Pezeshkzad’s My Uncle Napoleon, which will be published by Modern Library in April 2006. She is currently working on two books, one tentatively titled The Republic of the Imagination, which is about the power of literature to liberate minds and peoples, and the other, Things I Have Been Silent About, about culture, history, and loss. She lives in Washington, DC.
“Transcends categorization as memoir, literary criticism or social history, though it is superb as all three…. Nafisi has produced an original work on the relationship
between life and literature.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“I was enthralled and moved by Azar Nafisi’s account of how she defied, and helped others to defy, radical Islam’s war against women. Her memoir contains important and properly complex reflections about the ravages of theocracy, about thoughtfulness, and about the ordeals of freedom—as well as a stirring account of the pleasures and deepening of consciousness that result from an encounter with great literature and with an inspired teacher.”
— Susan Sontag
“When I first saw Azar Nafisi teach, she was standing in a university classroom in Tehran, holding a bunch of red fake poppies in one hand and a bouquet of daffodils in the other, and asking, "What is kitsch?" Now, mesmerizingly, she reveals the shimmering worlds she created in those classrooms, inside a revolution that was an apogee of kitsch and cruelty. Here, people think for themselves because James and Fitzgerald and Nabokov sing out against authoritarianism and repression. You will be taken inside a culture, and on a journey, that you will never forget.”
— Jacki Lyden, National Public Radio, author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba
“Stunning...a literary life raft on Iran’s fundamentalist sea... All readers should read it.”
– Margaret Atwood
“Remarkable...an eloquent brief on the transformative power of fiction.”
— The New York Times
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