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Lila Azam Zanganeh

Photo credit: Marcello Correa

"Reading makes us better seers, imagination enables us to reinvent ourselves. The ambrosia of imagination is offered in books, in art."

Lila Azam Zanganeh is an acclaimed writer, journalist, and public intellectual. Her first book, The Enchanter, is a “love letter to literature” (The New Yorker) inspired by the life and work of Vladimir Nabokov. A tribute to a man she calls “the great writer of happiness,” the book also provides a moving and insightful look at the relationship between readers and writers -- ”A flight of imagination that should appeal to anyone who has ever obsessively devoted him or herself to a favorite author" (Library Journal).  Her accomplishments as a literary critic have brought recognition from the Man Booker Prize, which named her as a judge for the 2017 Prize for Fiction, and by the Center for Fiction, which awarded her the 2011 Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism.

"[The Enchanter] is a contagion of happiness, a landscape of luminous discovery. Facts, words, characters, style, invention—she writes in flashes, like a camera lens opening and closing … At times, one feels helpless and transported... to a very strange and glittering place." -- The Los Angeles Times

Azam Zanganeh’s passion for the written word, as well as her exceptional wit and warmth, combine brilliantly in her public appearances.  Beyond the page, she is extensively involved with social initiatives such as the International Rescue Committee, Libraries Without Borders, and Narrative 4. These experiences, as well as her early life as an Iranian exile in Paris (not to mention her fluency in seven languages), have given her a uniquely cosmopolitan and deeply empathetic perspective that resonates with audiences around the world.


Based primarily in New York City, Azam Zanganeh is currently at work on a novel entitled A Tale for Lovers & Madmen. She contributes literary articles, reviews, and essays to publications such as The New York Times, The Paris Review, Le Monde and Le Repubblica. Educated at the École Normale Supérieure, she has also taught at Harvard University.


“Lila Azam Zanganeh is one of the most passionate and eloquent public speakers I have ever had the good fortune to watch. She never fails to electrify a room. She brings into the spoken realm that which other speakers leave outside: she speaks of ideas at a thoroughly engaged human level. At the same time she also manages to create a unique connection to each and every one of the audience members. This is a real skill and not one that many public speakers have.”


---Colum McCann, Award-Winning Novelist and President of Narrative 4


“I knew that Lila Azam Zanganeh was a wonderful writer and a first class intellectual, but I was very impressed by her extraordinary presence on the stage: she is articulate, sharp, deep, inspirational and passionate. She can be at the same time fun and profound, moving and scientific: her readings belong to those rare events where you learn while enjoying and you feel improved by every single word and gesture.”


---Antonio Monda, Artistic Director, Le Conversazioni


“Lila is a wonderful addition to any literary or cultural conversation or program. She is whip-smart, thoughtful, inclusive, engaging, and generous in her presentations and exchanges with other guests and audiences. Her opinions are smart and informed and always interesting...She is impeccably well informed and diligent about her preparation. She asks smart questions and allows her guests time to speak. Most importantly, she listens, so her interactions with her subjects are engaged and spontaneous and she always takes things in interesting directions! She’s a superstar! “


--Caro Llewellyn, former Artistic Director, PEN World Voices Festival


“The Nexus Masterclass by Lila Azam Zanganeh was by far one of the most lively, inspiring and memorable event the students have attended in years. Not surprisingly the YouTube recording of Lila's masterclass is still going viral all over the world. If there is one person who knows how to energize an audience and refresh their mind on topics that truly matter, it's Lila.”


---Rob Riemen, Founder and CEO, The Nexus Institute


“Lila has the talent to make people look and think in the same direction, to make people listen to each other, to help people share their most intelligent thoughts, to help them open their minds...In her role as the moderator, I have always seen Lila as a sort of conductor of a big orchestra and the readers as her musicians. She drew the best out of them, made them play the wonderful music of the mind called literature.”


---Tom Van de Voorde, Literature Programmer, BOZAR Center for Fine Arts, Belgium

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