Exile and Literature, Part Two

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The exile, we know, is someone who lives apart, away from her own country, her home. And the exile’s writing offers that unique perspective of someone seeing with fresh eyes what is otherwise taken for granted. The Iranian writer Azar Nafisi says it’s time to expand the American definition of exile, to make room for those who, though born here, still cast an outsider’s gaze.

Azar Nafisi had to leave her own home in Tehran when the strict rules of the Islamic government turned her into an internal exile, so imagine her surprise at coming to the United States and discovering the writing of Zora Neal Hurston, a powerfully outspoken and articulate writer describing life in America for a black woman 80 years ago. When no place is home.


Azar Nafisi, Director of the Dialogue Project and Visiting Professor of Culture and Politics at John’s Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), author of “Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels” and “Reading Lolita in Tehran.”