Monday, July 28, 2008

West of Kabul, East of New York

Ansary, Tamim. West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002.

Submitted by R. Stuhr

In this memoir, Ansary tells the story of his childhood in Kabul, the son of an American woman and an Afghan father. Published before The Kite Runner became the run-away favorite book club read, Ansary shares his impressions of Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion and three decades and counting of devastating war. Ansary's father worked for the government, and his childhood was colored by this fact, which determined both how and where he and his family lived. At the age of 16, in the mid-sixties, Ansary moved with his family to the United States. His father eventually returned to Afghanistan to be with is extended family and to continue his government work. Ansary describes the different ways he and his siblings responded to their Afghan identity. During the late 1970s, Ansary travels throughout South and Central Asia and the Middle East coming as close to Afghanistan as possible with the thin justification of writing an article about his travels. Later, after his return, he attempts to navigate the intricate networks of the Afghan community in exile. Ansary writes with humor and humility. His book is enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable.

For Kite Runner fans, Ansary mentions Khaled Hosseini toward the end of his book, describing him as a "young Afghan doctor whose passion after work was writing--not ghazals, not quasidas, not even rubaiyat, but horror stories in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft (p. 284).

Burling Library 2nd Floor E 184 .A23 A57 2002

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