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LIVE from the NYPL: WHO'S AFRAID OF IRAN? Azar Nafisi, Shirin Neshat, Roya Hakakian, Azadeh Moaveni, Soraya Broukhim, Sussan Deyhim and Lila Azam Zanganeh


As the media tracks Iran's growing nuclear arsenal and its potential as an ideological powder keg, the Islamic Republic looms larger than ever in the American imagination. Yet the country remains grossly misunderstood seen either as the third pillar of Bush's "axis of evil" or as a nation teeming with teens who clamor for democracy, Western-style. Beneath it all, Iranians?and their lives in the Islamic Republic remain shrouded in myth and stereotypes. So who in the world are Iranians in these shifting times?

A CONVERSATION Lila Azam Zanganeh, who aims "to corrode fixed ideas and turn cultural and political clich's on their heads" and is editor of My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes: Uncensored Iranian Voices, will have a conversation with Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, on the chrysalid of identity politics versus the durable pigments of individual imagination; when politics collide with poetry.

Four Iranian women, Shirin Neshat, Roya Hakakian, Azadeh Moaveni, and Lila Azam Zanganeh, moderator, will discuss the problematic notion of Iranian identity: Who are we in these shifting times and how do we devise ways to formulate it? The panel will give their perspectives on race, religion, and sexuality in?and in exile from the Islamic Republic.

Actress Soraya Broukhim will read from the book.

Sussan Deyhim, a Persian vocalist, will perform.

This event is co-sponsored by PEN American Center.

About Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran. She has lectured and written extensively on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of the Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran. Azar Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her cover story, "The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution's Woman Problem" published in The New Republic has been reprinted into several languages. She is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov?s Novels. She is currently working on two books, one tentatively titled The Republic of the Imagination, which is about the power of literature to liberate minds and peoples, and the other, Things I Have Been Silent About, about culture, history, and loss.

About Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat is a visual artist known for her photography and video installations. Her work has been showcased around the world, most notably at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Shirin Neshat began stirring controversy with her photo series Women of Allah. The series drew international attention as well as widespread criticism that Neshat was romanticizing Islamic fundamentalism. Neshat moved on to video installations showcasing allegorical narratives about gender issues in Islam. Her work has been exhibited around the world, and she is the recipient of many awards, including the First International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and, most recently, at Hiroshima City Museum of Art, Hiroshima, Japan.

About Roya Hakakian

Roya Hakakian is a journalist and writer. She has collaborated with the journalism units on 60 Minutes, A&E's "Travels With Harry" hour, and ABC Documentary Specials with the late Peter Jennings, Discovery and The Learning Channel. She writes for numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and is a contributor to the Weekend Edition of NPR's All Things Considered. She is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. She provides commentary on the subject of the Middle East and human rights to the media and has appeared on CSPAN-Book TV, CNN International, CBS Early Show, and Now with Bill Moyers. Hakakian is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian and Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran.

About Azadeh Moaveni

Moaveni grew up in California, her parents having left Iran in 1976, three years before the Islamic revolution. The unresolved tension she felt between her cultural identity as an Iranian and an American led her to go to Iran as a journalist. For two years she wrote about Iran for Time, finding a complex and varied reality. Her stay was bracketed by the pro-democracy student demonstrations of 1999 and President Bush's "axis of evil" speech in 2001, after which the government clamped down hard on dissent and on journalists. She was compelled to leave in fear for her safety. Her book Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran is the account of Moaveni's time in Iran, and of her quest to better understand her cultural identity.

About Soraya Broukhim

An actress born in New York City with both an Iranian and European background, Soraya Broukhim is a graduate of Fordham University, British American Academy of Dramatic Arts, National Theatre Institute, and St. Petersburg State Arts Theatre Academy. Among her recent New York City theatre credits are Gut Girls, Woyzeck, Innocent Erendira, Logic of the Birds, The American Revolution, and Afghan Women by William Mastrosimone. She performed Antigone as part of an UNESCO/ITI International Theatre Conference. Broukhim has also starred in two independent films Love in Three Minutes and The Push. She is currently working with Ripe Time Co., on Betrothed, an adaptation of two short stories, Dybbuk by Anton Chekhov and The Treatment of Bibi Haldar by Pulitzer Prize writer Jhumpa Lahiri. Broukhim is slated to play Simone Weil in a documentary about her life.

Lila Azam Zanganeh

Lila Azam Zanganeh was born in Paris to Iranian parents. She is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure, where she studied literature and philosophy, and holds a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University. She initially moved to the United States to teach literature, cinema and Romance languages at Harvard University. She is a contributor to Le Monde and has been published in The New York Times, The Herald Tribune, The Nation, and La Repubblica. Her first book, My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes, is a literary antidote to disinformation on Iran and Iranians with essays, interviews, photos and illustrations from an array of Iranian literary and artistic talents. Their interpretations veer between hilarity and despair, and offer color-studded and incisive perspectives on life, identity, and sexuality in?and in exile from?the Islamic Republic. She is currently at work on a book about Vladimir Nabokov.

About Sussan Deyhim

Sussan Deyhim is a composer, vocalist and performance artist who has been at the forefront of experimental music internationally for over two decades. Deyhim's music combines extended vocal techniques, digital processing, and the ancient mysticism of Middle Eastern music to create a deeply moving fusion of East and West. Among her many performances are a one-woman show Vocodeliks, commissioned by the Whitney Museum of Art; and her collaborations with visual artist/filmmaker Shirin Neshat, including the video Turbulent, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennial and their multimedia performance Logic of the Birds. Deyhim's most recent projects include a multimedia opera Zarathustra's Mother, a collaboration with Polish composer Jan Kazcmarek, and a collaboration with composer Paul Haslinger and the legendary vocalist Nona Hendrix.