Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times

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by Azar Nafisi

Dey Street Books

3/8/2022, hardcover

SKU: 9780062947369


The New York Times bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran returns with a guide to the power of literature in turbulent times, arming readers with a resistance reading list, ranging from James Baldwin to Zora Neale Hurston to Margaret Atwood.

What is the role of literature in an era when one political party wages continual war on writers and the press? What is the connection between political strife in our daily lives, and the way we meet our enemies on the page in fiction? How can literature, through its free exchange, affect politics?

In this galvanizing guide to literature as resistance, Nafisi seeks to answer these questions. Drawing on her experiences as a woman and voracious reader living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, her life as an immigrant in the United States, and her role as literature professor in both countries, she crafts an argument for why, in a genuine democracy, we must engage with the enemy, and how literature can be a vehicle for doing so.

Structured as a series of letters to her father, who taught her as a child about how literature can rescue us in times of trauma, Nafisi explores the most probing questions of our time through the works of Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, and more.


"[A] stunning look at the power of reading... Nafisi's prose is razor-sharp, and her analysis lands on a hopeful note... This excellent collection provokes and inspires at every turn." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"One of the remarkable things about Read Dangerously is the extent to which Nafisi's father emerges as a vibrant and fully developed character, years after his death. She effortlessly resurrects his intellectual presence... Read Dangerously lives up to its audacious title, demonstrating the subversive and transformative power of literature. It should start many a book-based conversation." -- The Progressive

About the Author:

is the author of the multi-award-winning New York Times bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, as well as Things I've Been Silent About, The Republic of Imagination, and That Other World. Formerly a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University's Foreign Policy Institute, she has taught at Oxford and several universities in Tehran. She lives in Washington, D.C.