When we get an email about a book from a fellow book lover, we take special notice. Over the weekend, friend and Ivy Bookshop Owner Ann Berlin, sent the following to our inbox:
We are always on the lookout for very special books and authors. I just completed a book entitled A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar and was so moved that I felt compelled to let the friends of the Ivy know about it. This book is a very special memoir by Qais Akbar Omar of life in Afghanistan during the civil war and under the Taliban. Every once in a while, a book comes along that leaves you so much richer, and this is one of them.
If you loved The Kite Runner, I believe you will love this one even more. The humanity shines through. This book is breathtaking. Qais will be signing at The Ivy Bookshop this coming Monday, May 20, at 7:00 PM. This book would be looked upon favorably among book clubs and anyone interested in the unfolding events in Afghanistan. I encourage you and your friends to meet him at the shop.
Qais recently wrote an amazing Op-Ed in The New York Times, entitled “Where’s My Ghost Money”. See the link here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/opinion/sunday/wheres-my-ghost-money.html?_r=0
A Fort of Nine Towers is one of the rare memoirs of Afghanistan to have been written by an Afghan, and it reveals the richness and suffering of life in a country whose history has become deeply entwined with our own.
For the young Qais Akbar Omar, Kabul was a city of gardens where he flew kites from his grandfather’s roof with his cousin Wakeel while their parents, uncles and aunts drank tea around a cloth spread in the grass. It was a time of telling stories, reciting poetry, selling carpets and arranging marriages.
Then civil war exploded. As the violence escalated, Omar’s father decided he must take his children out of the country to safety. On their perilous journey, they camped in caves behind the colossal Buddha statues in Bamyan and took refuge with nomad cousins, herding their camels and sheep. While his father desperately sought smugglers to take them over the border, Omar grew up on the road and met a deaf-mute carpet weaver who would show him his life’s purpose.
Later, as the Mujahedin war devolved into Taliban madness, Omar learned about quiet resistance. He survived a brutal and arbitrary imprisonment and, at eighteen, opened a secret carpet factory to provide work for neighborhood girls, who were forbidden to go to school or even to leave their homes. As the girls tied knots at their looms, Omar’s parents taught them literature and science.
In this stunning coming-of-age memoir, Omar recounts terrifyingly narrow escapes and absurdist adventures, as well as moments of intense joy and beauty. Inflected with folktales, steeped in poetry, A Fort of Nine Towers is a life-affirming triumph.
About the Author:
Qais Akbar Omar (whose first name rhymes with “rice”) manages his family’s carpet business in Kabul and writes books. In 2007, he was a visiting scholar at the University of Colorado. He has studied business at Brandeis University and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Boston University. Omar has lectured on Afghan carpets in Afghanistan, Europe and the United States. He is the coauthor, with Stephen Landrigan, of Shakespeare in Kabul.
Meet Qais Akbar Omar at 7 p.m. at The Ivy Bookshop, 6080 Falls Road, at 7 p.m. For more information, visit the Ivy Bookshop website.