Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times

HarperAudio. Mar. 2022. 8:28 hrs. ISBN 9780062947390. $23.99. LIT
In this illuminating, deeply affecting work, Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran) compellingly argues that literature can bring people together across the political divide. Presented as a series of letters written to her late father—a construct all the more moving in the audio version since the author serves as the narrator—Nafisi discusses important, sometimes divisive texts written by the likes of Salman Rushdie, Zora Neale Hurston, Elias Khouri, Margaret Atwood, and James Baldwin. Nafisi weaves in her own experiences and those of her friends and family, who have lived under Iranian authoritarian regimes before and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. She shares many of her father’s experiences as a mayor of Tehran; he was jailed in 1963 and held for four years on trumped-up charges from which he was later exonerated. Nafisi also discusses the prejudice, closed-mindedness, and authoritarianism she sees in “safe” democracies like the U.S. While some listeners might find the references to her father repetitive, Nafisi expertly pairs her family’s experiences with the literature she is analyzing.
VERDICT Most listeners will be inspired by this testament to the healing power of reading and writing.
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