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Babel Resumes With Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi

Iranian author Azar Nafisi, will speak at Kleinhans Music Hall as part of Just Buffalo’s Babel series on March 5.

Nafisi emigrated from Iran in the 1960s to study at the University of Oklahoma, where she received a Ph.D. in English literature. She went back to Iran to teach at the University of Tehran in 1979. She was dismissed in 1987 because she refused to wear a veil. She took another job teaching at the University of Allameh Tabatabai.

It was after her resignation from that university that she formed a reading group that is the basis for her book Reading Lolita in Tehran. Nafisi would gather a group of seven girls in her house weekly to discuss literature. Due to Iran’s represive Islamic regime, the women had to read in secrecy. Nafisi would share works by such Western authors as Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry James.

Reading Lolita in Tehran was published in 2003 and spent more than 117 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. The book has won various awards, including Booksense’s best non-fiction book of the year for 2004.

“The Babel series is a literary lecture series focused entirely on international authors,” says Michael Kelleher, artistic director of Just Buffalo. “The idea is to create a global conversation about literature.”

Currently, Nafisi is a visiting professor at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She is also the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute located within the School of Advanced International Studies.

Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $10 for students. A $100 patron’s ticket includes reserved seating and a pre-event reception with Nafisi. For more information, visit or call 832-5400.

samantha mcdonnell

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