Azar Nafisi

Other Writings

Biographile: “On the Mother of All Storytelling”

(October 2015)

A few years after I left Iran in 1997 to migrate to the United States, a former student of mine, Nima, on his visit to Washington brought me an unexpected and much-cherished gift: six small volumes of One Thousand and One Nights wrapped around with a ribbon. He had salvaged these from my library in Tehran. Perhaps no other book would have so embodied what all the other books in that library, now lost forever, had meant to me. (Continue reading here)

The Independent: “Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, Book of a Lifetime: Passionate Writer Captures an Essential Aspect of Life in America”

(October 2014)

I first read James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain in my sophomore year of college, when Giovanni’s Room got me hooked on Baldwin. It broke my heart and made me want to jump up and down, unable to fully articulate my own response towards it. (Continue reading here)

The Week

(October 2014)

Azar Nafisi’s 6 favorite books:
The Iranian-American literary scholar recommends works by Herman Melville, Muriel Spark, and more. (Continue reading here)

The Huffington Post: “Iran’s Women: Canaries in the Coal Mine”

(December 2010)

The battle for emancipation is part of a proud tradition that will shape the future of the regime and Islam itself.

Last month, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, in New York for a UN session, was asked by Fareed Zakaria on CNN about stoning for adultery and the case of Sakineh Ashtiani whose death sentence by stoning has attracted worldwide outrage. (Continue reading here)

The Guardian: “Women who fight for freedom”

(October 2009)

When I first read Anna Politkovskaya, I was almost startled by her no-nonsense prose, her preoccupation with facts, whether they were about Russia’s crimes in Chechnya or Vladimir Putin and corruption in the prime minister’s regime, brutality and boorishness against Russian citizens or even the shortcomings of the Russian people whose rights she so ardently defended. She spared no one, not even her allies. The poetry of her prose was matched by her passion for truth. Her facts were lovingly gathered and made to march, leading us to the terrible truth of the realities she revealed. And it was that single-minded commitment to truth, and her demand for justice, that made her so dangerous to the tyrants in her country and inconvenient to leaders of western democracies. (Continue reading here)

New York Times: “Word of War”

(March 2003)

These days I am often asked what I did in Tehran as bombs fell during the Iran-Iraq war. My interlocutors are invariably surprised, if not shocked, when I tell them that I read James, Eliot, Plath and great Persian poets like Rumi and Hafez. Yet it is precisely during such times, when our lives are transformed by violence, that we need works of imagination to confirm our faith in humanity, to find hope amid the rubble of a hopeless world. (Continue reading here)