Azar Nafisi. Photo by S. J. Staniski.
Azar Nafisi. Photo by S. J. Staniski.

Azar Nafisi, the acclaimed Iranian writer and professor of English literature at John Hopkins University who once wrote, “I left Iran, but Iran did not leave me,” is coming to San Antonio to speak, sign books, and read from her latest published work, “The Republic of Imagination.”

The event will serve as the kickoff to the 4th annual San Antonio Book Festival to be held next April, and will take place at the McCombs Center Rosenberg Sky Room of the University of Incarnate Word at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18. The event is being sponsored by Sister Kathleen Coughlin, UIW’s vice president for institutional advancement and will be free and open to the public.


Following the presentation, there will be a ticketed cocktail reception and Literary Feast with special guest Nafisi, who will be featured in conversation with Robert Rivard, director of The Rivard Report, during a dinner program. The dinner is underwritten by Mary Ann Smothers Bruni. The reception and dinner with Nafisi will raise for the San Antonio Book Festival. Tables and individual seats are available for purchase on the SAPLF website or by contacting Brianna Kirk at (210) 225-4728, ext. 16.

Nafisi has given English language readers a nuanced appreciation of life and work in Iran. She is best known for her 2003 memoir, “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” her personal account of teaching English literature and fiction writing to university students in Tehran under a totalitarian regime that imposes public and professional restrictions on women not imposed on men.

Nafisi, now a visiting professor and the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, turns her attention to the importance of fiction and literature as a whole in a democratic society in her latest work, “The Republic of Imagination.”

The San Antonio Book Festival became an instant one-day cultural success on the downtown landscape when it first launched three and half years ago, always taking place at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art on the Saturday before Fiesta. Even give that success, for book festival organizers to host a writer of Nafisi’s international status is a coup.

“We are lucky to have this opportunity to host Azar Nafisi while she is also visiting the Texas Book Festival,” said Katy Flato, executive director of the San Antonio Book Festival. “She is an eloquent promoter not only of literacy, but also literature and the vital role it plays in our culture. What a perfect way to introduce our 4th annual festival.”

Books will be available for purchase by The Twig and Nafisi will be signing after both events.

*Top image: Azar Nafisi. Photo by S. J. Staniski. 


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This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.