Tag Archives: Afghanistan

The Fashion Terrorist….From the Memiors of a Non-Enemy Combatant

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy CombatantFrom the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Looking for a satirical, quirky, quick read that pokes critical fun at our post-9/11 society? Then From the Memoirs of a Non-Combatant is for you!

The main character, Boy is a Filipino immigrant hoping to break into the New York fashion scene. The story is told from Boy’s point of view after arrested and transfer to Gitmo as a potential terrorist. According to Boy, it was all a big mistake and he had no idea he was business partners with real terrorists, Clever absurdity follows and we have a glimpse of our modern silliness from both the view of the fashion world and the political.

On the surface the two worlds seem far apart. But at their heart, propaganda and perception rule creating an commentary on our image oriented life-styles.

However, like so much in life, the reader cannot not count on Boy to be a reliable narrator and we are left wonderIng just happened and how much did Boy really know.

Clever elements like a fashion publicist who’s business is hampered post-9/11 by because his name is Ben Laden, add a Levi of comic absurdity that keeps the booking moving and entertaining.

Not exactly Swift, but a good satire for our times.

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Review of And the Mountains Echoed

This is another in the series of books by Khaled Hosseini
(think Kite Runner)
about people from Afghanistan. This book spans about 60 yrs and takes us from Afghanistan to Europe and the United States.

First, the things I liked. Hosseini opens the book with a children’s story about a giant taking away a man’s child. I found the story at the beginning of the book to be an amazing introduction to the book. It set the tone and provided structure for the rest of the book. Most of the book consisted of vignettes about people who are linked together when a brother and sister are separated. Without the introduction, I think the individual stories would have been too disjointed.

I also loved the language and images the author uses to tell his story. For example, In chapter 4 he writes the line”a life lived from the backseat”. It is a very gripping image of a person who is somehow afraid to strike out in life and stays behind watching others live. Again, masterful writing is seen when Hosseini writes, “…it would be the dripping faucet at the back of her head”. These lines reflect Hossieni’s ability to use words to bring forth images in a dramatic way.

All this being said, I liked the book. But, I did not love it the way I did his previous works, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns).

I am sure there will be many people are not happy with me for only giving 3 stars. But the others were better in my opinion.


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The Book Seller of Kabul: A Voyeuristic View into Another Way of Life

The Bookseller of KabulThe Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I realize I’m a bit late to thepartyreading this book. Nonetheless, it appealed to me and I’ve finally gotten around to doing it.

I wish there was a 4 1/2 star rating. I very much enjoyed the book but it’s just not at the five-star superior level.

It’s a fascinating story that provides a snapshot into the life of one Afghan family.

The experience of women in the family is particularly startling, in comparison to our modern western way of life and values. The chapter where the author describes the women simply as Burkas going through the daily actions of their lives underscores the lack of identity provided to these women. More so even than rights, this culture truly stripes women of a sense of self.

Western European women women were subject to the laws favoring husbands, treated as chattel, and could suffer physical abuse. But they seemed to at least have more identity. They oversaw castles and manners when men were at court, as nuns they were able to escape male control, and female townspeople often engaged in their husbands trade as assistants or their own trades brewing beer or as midwives. Marriages were certainly property and status transfer arrangements but don’t seem to be nearly as identity destroying as those described in the book.

Reading, or in my case listening to the book, makes you wonder at how strange these people seem– as if they are some kind of aberration. But, the people who are really the aberration are us. Going over all the people in the world throughout history very few have really given women the sort of freedom we have now.

The book also provides an examination of some of the strange and hypocritical social dynamics that arise from this culture. Men who engage in perverse sexual relations because they take advantage of system rigged against women. The intolerance of female sexuality but a tolerance for homosexual behavior.

There is a voyeurism that captures you while reading allowing you to sneak behind the “iron Burka”.

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