1 day 1 world: 11 pm to 12 am

Azar Nafisi, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of  “Reading Lolita in Tehran”(2003), received many awards, including the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, and was a finalist for the 2004 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Memoir.

azar nafisi

A good friend of mine loaned me a copy of an unpublished book (it’s in the final editing process) entitled “The Republic of Imagination” by Azar Nafisi. The idea for this book came to her when a young man, also from Iran, expressed to her about his disdain for Americans and their lack of understanding the importance of books. Thus, in her book, Azar uses Huckleberry Finn, Babbit, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter to demo American perspective on reading.

In the Introduction of this book, she first talks about her personal transformation when she took a loyalty oath to become an American citizen:

“When you choose to call a place home, you no longer treat it with the episocdic curiosity of a guest or visitor. Its shortcomings are no longer merely topics of conversation. You wonder, why are things this way and not another? You want to improve the place, to change it, to make your complaints known. And I had done enough complaining by then to know it was time I became an American citizen.” (p. 9)

This leads to her view of hope and dream, Azar uses the quote from Vaclav Havel, ” Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”  (p.32)

She, then, poses a provocative question, “If you believe your country was founded on the actualization of a dream, then an obvious and essential question arises: how can you dream without imagination?” With that, she “invites us to join her as citizens of her ‘Republic of Imaginations’, a country where the villains are conformity and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and willingness to dream.”

But, why she writes about reading perspectives for “The Republic of Imagination”? Azar explains by using Joseph Brodsky (receive 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature) quote:

“… we are powerless when it comes to its worst violation: that of not reading the books. For that crime, a person pays with his whole life; if the offender is a nation, it pays with its history.” Azar says, “Reading is a private act, but it joins us across continents and time.”

From there, Azar launches into the “America in Three Books”.

I’m not a night owl, but this book kept me awake until and after midnight.

Thanks to Lisa’s 1 day 1 world project. 🙂


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