Among my close circle of friends, I am known for saying a particular phrase often. You could ask any one of them and they would tell you I say, “I’m reading the most AMAZING book right now!” all the time. And it’s true. Cataloging hundreds of titles each week , I take home books that spark my curiosity almost every day. Some I skim for new information – reading the introduction and the conclusion but skipping all the references and arguments in the middle. But then there are books that are so rich in detail, so lush and full of things totally new to me, that I relish reading every word.
I found one of those books this week, and I just have to share it with you. Brand new to our library is A Fort of Nine Towers: an Afghan Family Story, by Qais Akbar Omar. Honestly, Afghanistan has never really been an interest of mine, despite our war there. I’ve only read one other book about it, Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, by Deborah Rodriguez (also good). But A Fort of Nine Towers has me entranced.
While it is a memoir about one family trying to survive the civil war that errupts after the Russians were driven out, Omar fills it with stories that explain the history of the country, the subcultures of the various ethnic groups, growing up in Kabul before it was destroyed by civil war and more, and the incredibly warm and generous people who helped his family over and over again.
His story, and the things his family endured, is horrifying at times but I am glad he has told it. He puts a human face on a part of the world I’ve only known thru the skewed lens of the nightly news. I am not done with the book so I don’t know what ultimately happens to them, but I am totally attached to them, thinking about them as I do my work, and hoping that in the end they all survive. It is a gift to find a book like this, and so I pass it on to you. — Erin