This new year, I urge everyone to embrace discovery. To learn of things unfamiliar, even uncomfortable. It is only through knowledge that we can make informed and compassionate decisions, and we never know when our decisions may impact others in ways unseen or unknown.
So for my first recommendation of the new year, I would like to revisit a book that I first reviewed
in 2013: Qais Akbar Omar’s superlative memoir of growing up in a changing and increasingly torn Afghanistan, “A Fort of Nine Towers”.
When Russia withdrew from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, there was jubilation on the part of the Afghan people; finally, they would have the self-rule for which they had been hoping and praying. Little did they know that factional fighting would tear their country apart, and open the door for the Taliban’s stranglehold on a loving people and their culture. Seen through the eyes of young Qais, the events of these tumultuous years are bewildering and at times harrowing, even horrifying, but throughout it all, he has the strength and love of his family to keep him from giving in or giving up.
Reading this personal memoir was quite the eye-opener for me. It not only speaks to the incredible person that Qais have become, but also to the amazing, and often sad (but also hopeful) journey of Afghanistan and its people. Now, when I read or watch the news out of the Middle East, I feel like I have a bit more understanding of that struggling region. I invite all of you to join me in using this remarkable memoir as a springboard to a greater understanding of the world around us.