Authoring Reading Lolita in Tehran in America: Diasporic Memoir and Rebirth of the Author

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Tina Takapoui


Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran is a diasporic memoir that simultaneously
challenges Roland Barthes’ Death of the Author and benefits from the said vacant position
Barthes bid farewell. The vacated authorial seat, previously occupied by a majority of eastern and
western male authors by tradition, is an invitation for diasporic female authors. Azar Nafisi and
other Iranian female memoirists like Marina Nemat, Masih Alinejad, Shirin Ebadi, and others
have long had their voices, fantasies, and beings conventionally constrained by the banality of
their day-to-day lives, not necessarily by the male figures in their lives, but under the strict
patriarchal watch that speculates every dim corner of their private lives. The exilic life in diaspora
is a condition of liminality that thrusts the individual into an in-between state of constant
becoming. In diaspora, the selective nature of memory, as an elusive and illusive faculty,
contributes to the author’s process of identity-making. The homeless author cuts off her roots
from homeland, so that she may float on the tides with no solid destination; but the uncertainty,
also, presents authorship as a liminal initiatiary step for the author to construct her identity
where belonging seems to be a bygone tale. As such, Nafisi, the previous reader of Nabokov’s
Lolita in Tehran, occupies the vacated seat of the dead author as a diasporic author and pens her
worldview from the position of an exile in form of a memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, a
mouthpiece for the hitherto silent reader.

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How to Cite
Takapoui, T. (2021). Authoring Reading Lolita in Tehran in America: Diasporic Memoir and Rebirth of the Author. Humanities Bulletin, 4(1), 244–256. Retrieved from