Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review: Born under a Million Shadows

I know very little of Afghanistan outside of war reports, so I was intrigued to read this novel about a boy and his family in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The novel follows 11-year-old Fawad and his mother as they move into the employment and residence of a house of foreigners. Curious and clever, Fawad busies himself spying on his new housemates and trying to figure out the complex world of adult relationships. Fawad is especially captivated by the romantic fortunes of Georgie, Fawad's favorite of his new housemates, who has fallen in love with a local warlord. Through all of Fawad's childhood games and fantasies the reader sees the troubled landscape of Afghanistan: beautiful, but caught in suffering. Violence, poverty, and death pervade the lives of all of the Afghans in this book. At only eleven Fawad has lost three siblings and his father. No one is a stranger to suffering. But violence does not overshadow the fact that this is a novel about family, friends, and relationships, and how these are formed across cultural and geographic distance. Busfield does a surprisingly good job of capturing the voice of an Afghan boy, and Fawad is charming and believable. I would certainly be interested in reading other things by this author.

Andrea Busfield, Born under a Million Shadows (Holt, 2010) ISBN: 0805090614

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