In conjunction with the January 2009 release of her second memoir, Things I’ve Been Silent About, author and teacher Azar Nafisi gives an exclusive interview to Goodreads.com for their popular “10 Questions With…” series.
In the interview, Nafisi shares her motivations for writing the book and answers questions about the difficulties of writing to an international audience. She eagerly emphasizes the significance of storytelling “as a way to communicate with the world” and learning how “to deal with books… [as] a participatory process.” Ms. Nafisi’s book is not just about Iran, or just about the personal memories she has of her mother: it is about the boundary between fact and fiction, and what she calls an “entry permit” into literature whose appeal is universal. “I hope that people in Iran understand that this is not about dirty secrets,” she says; “I hope they will read it as a desire to discover some truth and as a celebration of individual lives.”
Her fundamental message of connecting through literature and culture resonates particularly strongly in the current partisan atmosphere, and she maintains that “the simplistic notions that politics creates about other people is all negated through reading books.”
Ms. Nafisi is certainly well qualified to speak and write on the subject, having experienced firsthand the evolution of Iranian society under the new regime. She has written extensively about Iranian culture and is celebrated for what she calls her “obsession” with liberal arts and culture, but also for her strong belief in education, which fuels the plot of her memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran.
Azar Nafisi will be the featured speaker at the Fifteenth Annual ALSC Conference, to be held in Denver Colorado, October 2009.
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– Chelsea Bell & Erin McDonagh