It was an all-woman affair at last night’s book club as we discussed Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. 15 of us squashed together in my living room to explore, what turned out to be, a pretty divisive book.
We welcomed Amy to the group and re-welcomed back May (after a little sabbatical). Philip – you and your cucumbers were missed.
Anyway, following in the footsteps of the author, I asked everyone to rate the book out of ten and give their reasonings. Average score? 5.5 (which seems suitable since this book seemed to divide the group.)
While opinion on the book as a whole was split, most people seemed to enjoy learning about the Iran Revolution (you can read a little more about it here). There was frustration that, for whatever reason, Nafisi didn’t develop the characters of those around her. It may be that she was protecting the girls (some of whom must still live in Iran) but there was also some feeling that Nafisi was too filled with self-importance to bother.
The structure of the book (which jumps between different time periods and locations) confused a few people and there was a general wish for a little more continuity in the storytelling. Nafisi’s tendency to lecture her readers on literature was useful to some (who then wanted to read more) and frustrating to others (like me!)
We had quite a few non-finishers this month. For those who didn’t finish, there was a hope that it would “get better”. The more cynical of the group (me again) advised that hopes shouldn’t be elevated.
However, the book did have its good points. Some of the turns of phrase were particularly beautiful and more than one member of the book club was inspired (to read more, to learn more, and to write poetry)
The discussion dissolved quite quickly into an exploration of feminism, the role of women, and the difficulties of trying to instil change in a culture.
Another great book club with great food, wine, and stimulating conversation.
Thank you all.