Azar Nafisi (born circa 1955) is a Iranian born professor and writer who currently lives in the United States. Nafisi gained fame in 2003, with her book Reading Lolita in Tehran: a Memory in Books.
Ms. Nafisi was an English literature professor at a university in Tehran. Having witnessed the Iranian revolution and consequential rise to power of Ayatollah Komeini, Nafisi grew tired of the rules posted upon women by her country's rulers. Nafisi had visited the United States several times before the revolution, and she appreciated the freedoms that women in other countries had. She felt that she wasn't her true self when she had to go to class every day wearing a veil, and sometimes, she would show a hint of hair or kiss a male student on the cheek (something strictly forbidden by Iran's hard-line government), just to feel that, inside, she was still the same person.
Because of her discomfort with the laws established towards Iranian women after the revolution, she quit teaching in college during 1995, going on to do what would be considered by many to be a daring move: After quitting her job, she invited seven of her best female students to secretly attend regular meetings at her house, every Thursday morning. They would study such books as Lolita and Madame Bovary, literary works considered controversial and even dangerous to read in Iranian society. In addition to that, she would encourage her seven female readers to bring westernized clothing underneath their veils, and they would put on make-up during the meetings.
Nafisi fled Iran in 1997, moving to the United States, where she wrote Reading Lolita.., a book where she shares her experiences as a woman in Iran. In the book, she declared I left Iran, but Iran did not leave me.