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Author Azar Nafisi to give 25th Bucksbaum Lecture

February 25, 2010
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Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi, author of the national bestseller "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," will present Drake University's 25th Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will start at 7 p.m. in Drake's Knapp Center, 2525 Forest Ave. A book signing will follow the lecture.

"Reading Lolita in Tehran" describes the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. The book, which has been translated into 32 languages, has won numerous awards and been named one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by The Times of London.

Nafisi taught at the University of Tehran, which expelled her for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil. She has lived in the United States since 1997 and is now a visiting professor and director of cultural conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

She has lectured and written extensively in English and Persian on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of the Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran.

Nafisi's most recent book is "Things I Have Been Silent About: Memories," a memoir about her difficult childhood and dysfunctional family. Her mother was a member of the Iranian Parliament at the same time that her father, once mayor of Tehran, was in jail on trumped-up charges of financial irregularities.

Nafisi also has published a children's book with illustrator Sophie Benini Pietromarchi titled "BiBi and the Green Voice." She is working on a new book, "Republic of the Imagination," which is about the power of literature to liberate minds and peoples.

The Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Melva and the late Martin Bucksbaum, longtime member of Drake's governing board.

The series began in 1997 with a lecture by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Other lecturers have included Bob Costas, Jane Goodall, Wynton Marsalis, Salman Rushdie, the late Tim Russert, Bill Bryson and Maya Angelou. A complete list is posted online.