The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland

The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland

by Saira Shah

Saira Shah is the English-born daughter of an Afghan aristocrat, inspired by his dazzling stories to rediscover the now lost life their forebears presided over for nine hundred years within sight of the minarets and lush gardens of Kabul and the snow-topped mountains of the Hindu Kush.

Discovering her extended family, discovering a world of intense family ritual, of community, of male primacy, of arranged marriages, and finding at last the now war-ravaged family seat, she discovers as well what she wants and what she rejects of her extraordinary heritage.About the Author: Saira Shah lives in London and is a freelance journalist.

She was born in Britain of an Afghan family, the daughter of Idries Shah, a writer of Sufi fables.

She first visited Afghanistan at age twenty-one and worked there for three years as a freelance journalist, covering the guerilla war against the Soviet occupiers.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 3.83
  • Pages: 272
  • Publish Date: October 12th 2004 by Anchor
  • Isbn10: 1400031478
  • Isbn13: 9781400031474

What People Think about "The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland"

To try and resolve this conflict she went to Afghanistan at the time of the Soviet invasion and was propelled into the world of the mujahidin. This book will speak not only to the many people who admire the Afghan people and pity their ordeals, but to those like Saira Shah who owe allegiance to two cultures more and more of them now in the world. Saira Shah shares her memories of discovering the country of her parents when she becomes a journalist and travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan to find her father's paradise. She grew up with the old stories he shared and his nostalgia of a life before politics and international warfare in these countries destroyed everything. Saira Shah shares her experience behind the documentary film she made and the challenges they had to endure to introduce the outside world to a region of the world where many people still haven't seen airplanes and where some groups live so remote, that they were, by the grace of God, not affected by the war. Afghanistan have become a country where murder, death, the ending of a life, left no room for conscience, regret or tears. Doris Lessing sums up this book perfectly: This is a remarkable and essential book about Afghanistan which succeeds in describing the people of that country men and also women their identities, hopes, fears, generosity and cruelties, all of which have too long been buried under the rubble of endless geopolitical clashes.

The author's struggle wih her own Afghan identity is a very important part of the book.

There is not likely to be a better one about Afghanistan'.

Then, at the end of the book, she compared her childhood in Kent, England, to that of three young Afghani girls who had been raped by the Taliban after seeing their mother murdered in front of them. It probably has more to do with the fact that their countrymen are being murdered, their family has been destroyed, and they are starving to death." I know she was there to chronicle the disaster, a very worthy and necessary cause, but she was there for decades, put a lot of people's lives in danger in her attempts to enter Afghanistan and cover the war, and she only made one weak attempt to help anyone.

She was fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Afghanistan as a young girl and experience the land firsthand, including the unexplainable pull that country had on her.

Shah is heartbreaking on what she could not do, not finding the lovely, peaceful Afghanistan of her family lore in violent ruin and failing to help even the subjects of a documentary she filmed. There are many tragedies in this book, but perhaps the greatest is Shah's perception that the way of Abdul Haq is gone, that there is a generation of people who grew up during these violent decades and have lost everything but the one thing they know how to do, which is to make war.

I love this: "For the first time in my life I was nufus-dar, the Afghan term that means literally 'having people' - but which conveys a sense of safety and belonging. The other funny thing to me about that is that the word "nufus" is also about people in Turkish.

It actually took me about 80-100 pages to realize that this wasn't going to turn into the book I thought it was and did some googling to verify the mistake.

From her first visit at seventeen, she was hooked, even though the reality of Afghanistan she found as a journalist was very different from the beautiful dream she chased. Embedding herself with the mujahidin who fought the invading Soviet troops, she climbed frozen mountains and dodged bullets, a lone woman dressed as a man, watching warriors die in front of her eyes.