Azar Nafisi is the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Born in Tehran, Iran, she now lives in the US and teaches at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
(in her own words)
I lived in Iran until I was 13, and then my parents sent me to England - to Lancaster - to finish my studies.
That was when I first tasted the pangs of exile.
I think somehow I was destined to be an international tree, and to pass on whatever my roots were feeding me onto all kinds of other people
Copyrighted Photo by lili Iravani
Azar Nafisi I finally returned to Iran in 1979, when I got my degree in English and American literature, and stayed for 18 years in the Islamic republic. When I first left Iran at the age of 13, Iran had become such a shining star - it was the point to which all my desires and dreams returned. When I went back home after the revolution in 1979, I discovered that home was not really home.
Everything that had been familiar during my youth had changed beyond recognition. When I was teaching at the University of Tehran we were struggling against the implementation of the revolution rules. From the very first years I returned, I was trying to redefine what home meant. Was it where you were born, was it where the values that you cherish were practiced?
It was a dilemma that I had to deal with over the 18 years that I lived in Iran. Certain things you take with you wherever you go. My passion has always been books and literature, and teaching. In the US I teach - and I also write. The main difference is of course that the book that I recently wrote could not have been written had I lived in my homeland. But now that I have written this book, I can re-create the relationship with the people living in Iran through my writings.
So I have not lost contact with Iran. I think that this is what makes literature and books so wonderful - they transcend geographical boundaries.