Where is Home in the Debut Narratives of Nafisi and Keshavarz presented at the Arrivals and Departures: Modern Iranian Narratives of Departure and Return Conference: American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) in Long Beach, CA, April 24-27, 2008
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Azar Nafisi and Fatemeh Keshavarz are two Iranian female academics writing in the States. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books is Nafisi’s debut autobiographical work that delineates the problems Nafisi, as a female academic, experienced while living in Iran after the Islamic Revolution and the consequences (positive and otherwise) of living in a self-imposed state of exile ever since she left the country. Jasmine and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran is Keshavarz’s memoir and a response to Nafisi’s notion of exile and homeland—among many other issues—in a political context. In my paper, I will be exploring the concepts of homeland, exile, ultra-patriotism, and anti-patriotism in the context of contemporary Iranian politics and with multiple references to religious issues as they are brought up in both works. As both of these works subscribe to the genre of memoir, I will also be discussing the issues of truth, selectivity, memory, and subjectivity in the two works. I will also discuss the impact of social class, age, background, and education in the two memoirs.