“Imagination”, “exhilarating”, “impassioned”: in three words, I feel beguiled. Those are the words used to describe Azar Nafisi’s THE REPUBLIC OF IMAGINATION. I was expecting something—different. Maybe something about smuggling out contraband books. Maybe something about rainbow kitty unicorns. Nope.
I thought I was reading a long introduction. It was good, but it kept going and going. And going. Then I realized this is the whole book.
I need to come back and read this book in five years from now, maybe ten. The messages are poignant and challenging. Nafisi indirectly asks the powerful questions about American culture, the value of books, and the treasures of the heart. I wasn’t ready to digest it. Honestly—sadly—I haven’t read some of Nafisi’s selections.
As far as reading goes, I’m still a relative newcomer. To get a glimpse of how other countries value American literature, stuns me. Middle School, High School, and beyond did not find me reading. Only recently have I found my joys—found my life, really—in reading. To realize what I’ve taken for granted, shames me.
Nafisi is anecdotal in her approach. At times, this may distract from the message, though some may like the personal flourishes. It’s isn’t straight history, nor is it too scholarly. If you are on the fence, I leave you with this quoted passage:
“American students, we are told, are falling behind in reading and math; on test after test, they score below most European students (at the level of Lithuania), and the solution, rather than seeking to engage their curiosity, has been testing and more testing— a dry and brittle method that produces lackluster results. And so resources are pulled from the “soft” fields that are not being tested. Music teachers are being fired or not replaced; art classes are quietly dropped from the curriculum; history is simplified and moralized, with little expectation that any facts will be learned or retained; and instead of reading short stories, poems and novels, students are invited to read train schedules and EPA reports whose jargon could put even the most committed environmentalist to sleep.”
You may want to check the book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books
As usual, Happy Reading!