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From the author of the bestselling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran comes a powerful and passionate case for the vital role of fiction today.

From the author of the bestselling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran comes a powerful and passionate case for the vital role of fiction today.

Ten years ago, Azar Nafisi electrified readers with her million-copy bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which told the story of how, against the backdrop of morality squads and executions, she taught The Great Gatsby and other classics to her eager students in Iran. In this exhilarating follow-up, Nafisi has written the book her fans have been waiting for: an impassioned, beguiling and utterly original tribute to the vital importance of fiction in a democratic society.

Taking her cue from a challenge thrown to her at a reading, she energetically responds to those who say fiction has nothing to teach us today. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favourite novels, she invites us to join her as citizens of her 'Republic of Imagination', a country where the villains are conformity, and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.


Playful, sombre and tender, Nafisi's character-vignettes persuade us that reading nourishes empathy and friendship, opening the forbidden path through the green gate.


Resonant and deeply affecting . . . an eloquent brief on the transformative powers of fiction.

New York Times

We are all citizens of Azar Nafisi’s The Republic of Imagination. Without imagination there are no dreams, without dreams there is no art, and without art there is nothing. Her words are essential.

Marjane Satrapi

A lovely book: sharp in observation and wholly readable.

Larry McMurtry

An arresting read … striking and utterly persuasive

Times Higher Education

Nafisi argues passionately

New Statesman

A moving and convincing case for the necessity of literature

Big Issue in the North

The book is a triumph … Most of all, I admire Nafisi’s bravery in challenging the commercialisation of America’s cultural and educational life … Nafisi’s sustained critique of trends in the American higher education system has a lot to say to UK readers and academics as well. Overall, the project is clever and poignant and steers clear of preachiness or schmaltz. But perhaps more impressive is the fact that although this is ostensibly a book about reading, Nafisi covers so many different aspects of life: morality, loneliness, coffee shops, technology, suicide, race, gender. In the end, the republic of imagination is not ‘about’ anything: what it comes down to is a single question. How should we live – as a society and as individuals?

New Welsh Review

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    November 2, 2015

    Windmill Books

    352 pages

    RRP $19.99

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  • EBook


    October 23, 2014

    Cornerstone Digital

    352 pages

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