Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reading Lolita in Tehran in San Francisco

Our next book for September is "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi.

An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule.

Join us on Sunday, September 30 at 2pm in the Lower Haight district at Bean There Cafe.

Discussing the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

We had an incredible discussion on Sunday July 22 at the Revolution Cafe to exchange what we took away with us from reading the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book Infidel.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West. Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following an Islamist's murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the movie Submission.

Infidel gave us the opportunity to discuss the author's life in Africa and then post-Africa and how she achieved to find residency in the Netherlands and become part of its political system. Among other things, we discussed how her voice in the book was trying to be objective as she did not want to be perceived as a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Her main message towards the end was that "the mistreatment of women is not an incidental problem in the Muslim world." This point led to more discussion in our group.

A great book to recommend to any book club!