Azar Nafisi's Headshot

Azar Nafisi

Award winning author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, translated into 32 languages - Panelist Blurb

An Iranian academic and writer, Azar Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which presents a harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. Earning high acclaim and an enthusiastic readership, Reading Lolita in Tehran spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages. Her most recent book, Things I Have Been Silent About: Memories, a memoir about her mother, was published in 2009.

Nafisi is currently a visiting Fellow and lecturer at the Foreign Policy Insitute of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced international Studies (SAIS), where she teaches courses on the relationship between culture and politics.

She previously taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabai before her return to the United States in 1997 - earning national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran's intellectuals, youth, and especially young women. In 1981, she was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil and did not resume teaching until 1987.

She has lectured and written extensively on the political implications of literature and culture, and the role human rights of Iranian women and girls play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran. She has been consulted on issues related to Iran and human rights both by policy makers and human rights organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Nafisi has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and her cover story, "The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution's Woman Problem" published in The New Republic in 1999 has been reprinted into several languages. She is currently working on a book entitled Republic of the Imagination, about the power of literature to liberate minds and peoples.
She lives in Washington, DC.