Nazila Fathi is a journalist and commentator on Iran and the author of The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran (The Guardian, Vogue and Foreign Policy Association named The Lonely War the best non-fiction of 2014). She reported out of Iran for The New York Times for nearly two decades until 2009 when government threats forced her to leave the country. She wrote over 2,000 articles for The New York Times and translated History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran, a book by Noble Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, into English. Before joining MEI in 2020, Fathi consulted for the World Bank Group.

Fathi has written for the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, IMF Finance and Development, as well as Vogue and Marie Claire. She has been a guest speaker on CNN, BBC, CBC and NPR. She was awarded a Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship at Lund University in 2003, Nieman Fellowship for journalism at Harvard in 2010-11, Shorenstein Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2012 and an association at Harvard Belfer Center in 2012-13. 

Fathi’s academic background is in international development and women’s studies. As a hobby, she writes children’s books. My Name is Cyrus and Avicenna, the Father of Modern Medicine are among them.

B.A. in English at Tehran Azad University
M.A. in Political Science (double major in Women’s Studies and International Development) at University of Toronto 

Persian, English, French 

Issues of Expertise
Iran domestic and foreign policy; Women’s issues, religion and cultural dynamics of the Middle East; development challenges in the Middle East and their impact on society and politics. 

The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran, Basic Books 2014
• History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (Translation), Bibliotheca Persica Press 2000

Select Articles
Bias and Barriers (IMF F&D)
Will Iran Protests Help the Hardliners? (NYT)
Iran’s Nuclear Chill (Foreign Policy)
The Rouhani Paradox (Foreign Policy)
Iran’s Big Yawn (Foreign Policy)
Feeling the Pain in Tehran (Foreign Policy)
The Leader (The Cairo Review of Global Affairs) 
Recent and archived work by Nazila Fathi for The New York Times

Legacy of the Iranian Revolution, Whither The Revolution
Iran’s Voters Go to the Polls
The Struggle for Modern Iran: A Journalist’s Story

Contact Information

Please contact MEI’s media relations manager, Rachel Dooley, at or 202-785-1141 ext. 241 for assistance contacting this expert.

Twitter Handle: @nazilafathi

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