Sorry, Wrong Chador
"It's dated," she said of "Reading Lolita."
"It's what the Americans think it's still like here. Wearing lipstick and putting a scarf on is not a major issue these days. It was when she was here."
Iranians who travel abroad are irritated by the persistence of the puritanical image of their society. The stark image of the chador -- the head-to-toe veil, black as night and so seductive as an image of severity -- no longer sums up Iran, they say.
"It's so dated. They don't know. They quote hearsay. They get a small thing and magnify it. And actually they put you in the position of being pro-Islamic Republic! I hate it!"
But she hates the memory of past fetters for all the reasons in Nafisi's book. This is the second point.
Iran's public may have pushed the mullahs back a few steps as a huge baby boom generation born after the Islamic Revolution has demanded basic private freedoms that no government could expect to deny and survive. But not all the children born after the revolution remained in Iran. Many of those who could afford to send their children abroad did so, into exile.
"My thumb's up for Azar Nafisi, because through this book she managed to get her revenge on the Islamic Republic," the bookseller said.
"That, to us, means a lot, because we all have this big grudge in our heart, this fire that needs to be quenched, for having lost so many friends, having gone through so many unbearable times, for our youth being confiscated from us, for our children having been taken from us.
"We all have this thirst for revolution in us. She got her revenge."
And she slammed her fist into her palm.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company