Azar Nafisi

In 1979, Iran went through a transformation straight out of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. Overnight, new leadership and laws mandated chadors for women, banned anything un-Islamic, and made the country a pariah for our next four presidential administrations. Azar Nafisi lived through it, and she wrote about it in the 2003 bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran. But her follow-up memoir, Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories (Random House, $27), isn’t just another eyewitness account of that tumultuous revolutionary period. It’s mainly Nafisi’s own story, that of a woman with troubled parents, a weakness for deceitful men, and a stubborn streak that gets her fired from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear a veil. There is history, too, but Nafisi combines national and personal narratives. Today a professor at Johns Hopkins University, she reminds us how her fellow expatriates still love their broken, distant home. LAURA ONSTOT

Fri., Jan. 16, 7 p.m., 2009

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