Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Afghan Family Story

The Boston Marathon bombing was horrific, as were the shootings at Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Columbine.  Imagine: the Afghan author of Fort of Nine Towers lived through decades of such horrors. Some of the scenes in Qais Akbar Omar’s memoir are so revolting, especially the scenes of systematic torture, that it seems miraculous that the author survived.

Not only did he survive, he retained his love and respect for life and for his country.

Omar was a young boy in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union’s occupation. Life was good for his middle class family. His father and grandfather sold carpets, his mother worked in a bank, there was a large extended family that spent time together, and Omar enjoyed going to school and flying kites with his favorite cousin, Wakeel.

But when the Soviet Union pulled out, Afghanistan dissolved into civil war.  Factional fighting slowly destroyed Omar’s neighborhood and his family’s way of life, and Omar and his family became internal exiles in their own country. Omar and his family finally returned to Kabul and camped out in an old fort just as the Mujahedin were replaced by the Taliban. Cruelty continued, but even after Omar was arbitrarily tortured and imprisoned he retained his hope that things would change for the better. After he was released from prison he secretly set up a carpet weaving business to provide work for neighborhood girls.

This memoir is beautifully written by a young man who has suffered much but still loves his country. I highly recommend Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story.

Posted by Kay.

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