Can Books Succeed Where Diplomacy has Failed? One Writer Hopes So
Azar Nafisi wrote Reading Lolita Teheran about her experiences leading a secret reading group for women in her native Iran. Nafisi wants to start a global reading group to encourage understanding and awareness about the importance of human rights, reports the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Nafisi hopes to fight the oppression she fled from by using literature to start a dialogue. "That is the one thing I have always dreamt of, to create this republic of imagination," she tells the Globe and Mail. She hopes that discussing works of literature from all over the world will spark recognition of similarities instead of igniting old differences.
The reading group will meet online, of course and the site will debut early in 2006. Despite the focus on literature, Nafisi makes clear this is a political move. "People think of activism in terms of going to the White House or becoming political every four years, but I think activism is also very actively and consciously supporting a culture of thought and imagination," she said.
Nafisi is a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and Reading Lolita in Teheran, an international bestseller, is banned in Iran.