Published by Viking Adult on October 21, 2014
Genres/Lists: Non-Fiction, Political
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I received this book for free from Edelweiss.
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From the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran comes a mind-expanding followup called The Republic of Imagination. The idea for the book is the result of a question about whether Americans appreciate their fiction and spirals into an analysis of three American classics and their impact on our democratic ideals. The driving argument through the book is that to appreciate fiction requires imagination, which is also important for a successful democracy, therefore fiction is good for democracy.
The book is fairly complex and delves into a lot of detailed analyses about what it means to be an American (we love to consume and collectively pursue individualism), why democracy is so powerful (tyrants recognize this), and how fiction allows us to view the world with fresh eyes. She does so through the dissection of three American novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Babbitt, and The Heart is the Lonely Hunter. Now, I admit, before reading this book I had only read Huck Finn, and that was years ago, so I probably missed out on the full magnitude of what this book has to offer. That said, I don’t feel like I missed anything. Nafisi does such a great job of quoting from the referenced books and describing their implications in terms of democracy that each analysis is like a separate story in itself with its own beginning, middle, and end. It did, however, inspire me to read Babbitt, and my review of that is coming next week and I can look back on The Republic of Imagination with more insight regarding those portions of the book.
Recommended for: Readers of books about democracy or who enjoyed Nafisi’s last book. It’s a great followup to Reading Lolita in Tehran and offers a unique perspective on the importance of fiction, which every book lover will appreciate.