First it was the Russians, then civil war, the Taliban and finally the Americans. Qais' family, like every other Afghan family have had plenty to contend with over recent decades. He is just a small child when the Russians withdraw but far from releasing the country from adversity, the hard times are just gathering strength. Forced to flee Kabul, the family traverse Afghanistan seeking refuge until they are finally able to return to the capital, just in time for the arrival of the Taliban.
Not for the faint hearted, this insightful memoir places the reader firmly in the midst of a complex country and its people in turmoil; it is a story of survival and resilience tempered by the saving grace of a strong and loving family. [Small font]
All the group liked this book. A gripping autobiography of life in Afghanistan through a child's eyes. Doubtless Bay 001
We all loved this book. It enlightened us all. A very accessible way to understand what is happening in Afghanistan. Wellington 079
Very popular! Auckland 287
Everyone really 'enjoyed' this book and found it very insightful into life in war-torn Afghanistan. Some found that parts were not advised for bedtime reading! Good discussion on the night with everyone thankful for life in peaceful NZ! Nelson 031
Loved it. Great read, very interesting. Auckland 355
We all enjoyed this book and had a good discussion at our meeting. We loved his writing. Dunedin 006
We all enjoyed this book immensely; a very full account of his life with a good description of the different 'tribes' within Afghanistan. Christchurch 049
Recommended to anyone wanting understanding of the oppression of the people of Afghanistan and their consequent distrust of 'liberating countries'. Napier 023
Everyone thought this was a great book. It was well written and portrayed a very 'rounded' look at Afghanistan's various warring factions. Havelock North 012
This book was loved by everyone. We believe it is a better read than 'Kite Runner' - a high recommendation. Many members felt they finally understood the background to how Afghanistan is where it is today. Morrinsville 001
This story was loved by all our Group. It provoked much chat - comparing our culture to that of the Afghans, envying their strong family connections and values that enable them to cope with all facets of life endured over decades. So well-written, an engaging style. We all want to read Quais' next book.
We all thought this was an excellent book and it made us realise how little we actually knew about Afghanistan and the horrors the people had to suffer. Definitely recommended reading.
All found it a brutal harrowing read in parts, but also amusing, inspiring and educational on Afghanistan history and culture. A remarkable tale of personal resilience and initiative in the face of brutality and religious insanity. Also a tale of Afghanistan hospitality, generosity and family love. Quais has had an extraordinary life- enough hardship and trauma for several lifetimes, yet writes about it in a matter of fact understated way. The author understandably needed the therapeutic healing of telling his story, but some of us found his memoir a bit long winded in parts.
Very educational book, gave us an awareness we're not sure we wanted. We loved the hope that threaded all through the book. Very well-written. Fantastic discussion. Definitely one of our better books.
Enjoyed the book although it challenged our thinking. Very topical at present also, which was another consideration in our discussion.
Absolute winner - incredible story that enlightens about Afghanistan. Very, very readable.
Amazing, unforgettable story that provides great insight to Afghan life and the tumultuous last few decades. Qais's account is both shocking and beautiful as he describes the brutality of the ongoing conflict in contrast to the hospitality of the Afghan people. We now have a much better understanding and empathy for the people of Afghanistan.
This is a most informative and enjoyable true story about a large extended family of carpet-sellers who lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the late 20th century. Written by the eldest son,(Qais),and told in his voice as he grows from childhood to adulthood. The writing style is poetic and visual, and the settings range from beautiful to barbaric, as does the behaviour of humans at intervals. The strongest threads in this account are the warmth of family relationships and the ability to survive shocking experiences as each wave of political extremism washes over and around these wonderful people....
The whole group enjoyed the book. It was shocking and confronting, but also educational and uplifting. We enjoyed the prose, the honesty and the language very much. Our discussion was about the Taliban, religion, wealth, carpets, family, courage, patience, war, futility etc. which made for an interesting session.
After some spirited discussion, we decided that, "This has been a stimulating, informative, inspiring and heart-warming book that has opened our eyes to the capacity human beings have to do evil to each other".
Everyone enjoyed this book. It was billed as insightful, engaging and written without any self-pity of heavy emotional overlay. A clear presentation of a hard-to-believe narrative that left us all in deep awe of the author. Thank you.
A moving and poignant read, giving an exceptional insight into Afghanistan.
The most amazing read so far! We were all shocked and saddened to hear what Afghanis have been through. A MUST read for everyone to help understand the unrest in that part of the world.
Our group enjoyed this book despite its horrific content (at times). We thought it could have been further edited, however the principle with which it is written was strong. A context on the political history could be useful as a ready reference.