The author of Reading Lolita in Tehran offers a meditation on reading as an act of resistance. Written in the form of letters to Nafisi's father, the book considers questions of social justice through the works of Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood and more.
Nafisi’s dispatches are eloquent essays on literature’s power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. In addressing them to one she loves dearly, she provides a built-in layer of warmth and understanding. But she still hits hard ... Nafisi gets to the heart of the matter in the very first chapter ... You could say Nafisi is prescient, but the themes she’s tackling are timeless, older even than Plato’s The Republic, which she also addresses.
Nafisi’s father went to prison for four years because he insisted on fair and humane treatment for people he disagreed with. From father to daughter, there is a clear line in the moral and intellectual commitment to seeing the enemy’s humanity. Read Dangerously — criticism, memoir and argument as well as correspondence to a lost loved one — confirms that lineage ... Frequently and deftly shifting lanes between autobiography and literary analysis, she uses her experience and reading of three books to question the nature of this immemorial conflict between the poet and the tyrant ... Pushing beyond state power, she also asks incisive questions about the intolerance within individuals. Her observations implicate both adherents of Make America Great Again and their political foes ... This book reciprocates the rhetorical gesture in a natural, intimate voice. Stylistic and affective reasons aside, writing to her departed father reinforces the mood of Nafisi’s book, which turns to the power and example of the brave past and to a tradition of great books as solace and guide. With sensitivity and intelligence, it offers a new canon for the tyrannies of the present and the dystopian possibilities of the future.
Reading Dangerously is a political writer’s brilliant attempt to understand historical and political events, as well as human nature, such that one feels her struggle to offer honest, well considered suppositions. Her carefully chosen words and her attempt to articulate cogent analyses ultimately lead readers to deeper understanding of the importance of literature as an act of resistance ... 'Great works of fiction are about revealing the truth, [and] great writers . . . become witnesses to the truth; they do not, cannot, remain silent.' These words perfectly describe Azar Nafisi’s passion for truth and her mission as a writer. They also bear witness to her many gifts as a critical thinker and a gifted literary figure.