Ms. Nafisi is the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and Things I’ve Been Silent About. Her talk will focus on her new book, Republic of the Imagination.
Here is her description of the new work:
“The book focuses on the question: can we have a democracy without a democratic imagination? It is also about my experiences of ‘becoming an American citizen,’ of how before coming to America I had traveled to the imaginary America through its fiction, and it is through the lens of that fiction that I now encounter the real America. My focus is on the vagrant and homeless characters of American fiction, who I believe are also its moral guardians. I begin with Huck Finn as the parent to many other protagonists of American fiction, go on to Babbitt, a critique of current utilitarianism and Ayn Randian individualism, with focus on the education system and its sorry state, then to Heart is a Lonely Hunter, where all the marginal descendants of Huck are gathered, and the Epilogue is on Baldwin. He as you know has a great deal to say about the intersections between history and fiction, personal and public, and I will draw on that and his definition of the writer as witness.”