Author: Saima Wahab
Hardcover, 352 pages; Crown Publishers
Published: April 23, 2012
- About the book: This is the story of a 15-year-old Afghani girl who migrates to Portland, Oregon in the 1980s with her brothers, in the care of her traditional Pashtun uncles. Saima came from a tribe in Afghanistan with very strict rules regarding family and women's behavior. She rebelled against her uncles as she grew older, and after college at age 23, left their home to strike out on her own.
- In 2004, she signed up with a defense contractor as an interpreter in Afghanistan, and ever since has worked with the U.S. Armed Forces as the first female Pashtun-English interpreter, and later as a research consultant to the U.S. army in Afghanistan. Her book covers two main areas: her personal life and struggles to integrate into U.S. society as an immigrant, and her fight for her individual freedom as a woman connected by family to a traditional tribal society. The other main area, and the one which takes up most of the book, is her commitment to better understanding and communication between the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan.
- Comments: I was amazed by Saima's bravery in breaking away from her uncles in Portland and becoming a virtual outcast from her family. Her unique gift and accomplishment as a fluent Pashtun-English translator made her valuable as an interpreter and cultural advisor. This has given her what she most wanted ever since childhood - freedom and independence as a woman in both her Afghani and American worlds, and she fights still to improve the lives of restricted Afghani women.
- The author talks about another important goal for working in Afghanistan. She wanted to find out what it was about the Afghanis that made her father give up his life for them. Another amazing thing about this book was how her writing made everything clear and easy to understand - Saima's personal life and goals, the differences in her ethnic culture and Western culture, the needs of the U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan to work successfully with the Afghanis. A compelling book on several levels, I recommend it to those interested in the fight of women in traditional societies for a better life and individual freedom and for those interested in the culture and politics of Aghanistan.
- SAIMA WAHAB is Afghan-born, fled to Pakistan as a refugee, and moved to the United States as a teenager. She is one of the only Pashtun-English female translators in the world and, among other consequent roles, has returned to Afghanistan to work as a cultural adviser with the U.S. Army. A former resident of Portland, OR, Saima now lives in the Washington D.C. area.
For a list of all the book tour stops sponsored by TLC Book Tours, and other reviews of the book, visit TLC Book Tours: In My Father's Country blog tour.