“Reading Lolita in Tehran” – Azar Nafisi

This book isn’t captivating, it has to fight for your attention. It’s not a page-turner and yes, its structure is quite chaotic (what I already expected from it, by skimming through other readers’ reviews). You have to create time for it, give it air to breathe, allow it to take space in your day, to touch you & to make you want to know more about it.

Unfortunately, I’ve only gotten to this point towards the end of the book, about 200 pages in (out of the total 340). As chaotic, jumpy, not well connected between each individual chapter the narrative might have been, it still touched me. It did manage to portray an atmosphere & a feeling of what it’s like to live in Iran as a woman.

2 phrases that have jumped out to me, were the ones that reminded me of personal experiences, when I myself have travelled to Iran in 2017.

“Yet what shocked her most were her sensations in the streets […], where she had walked freely […], wearing a T-shirt and jeans. She described the feel of the wind and the sun on her hair and her skin […].”

This is what I missed the most while spending some time in the country. Something as simple as feeling wind in your hair, a feeling that I have never consciously registered before. But as the saying goes, you only realise how much you valued something, when it is taken away from you. As much as it was frustrating, demoralising & hard during the trip at most times, I am still thankful to have been able to experience such situations first hand.

“Sometimes I think men just can’t relate to how difficult it is to be a woman in this country” […] For them it’s easier.”

Even during the short 1 week trip there, this is exactly how I felt travelling by the side of my male best friend.

Another quote that spoke to me, creating such a visual and tangible metaphor, was:

“Living in the Islamic Republic is like having sex with a man you loathe […] If you’re forced into having sex with someone you dislike, you make your mind blank – you pretend to be someone else, you tend to forget your body, you hate your body.”

Even if my general rating isn’t that high, 3 out of 5 stars, I would nevertheless highly recommend this book. I would just suggest you to read it during a period, when you’ll have time to read it in as close to in 1 sitting as possible.

“Reading Lolita in Tehran” – Azar Nafisi

★★★☆☆ (3/5)

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