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The vivid, often startling memoir of a young woman shaped by two dramatically disparate worlds. 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.
Part sophisticated, sensitive Western liberal, part fearless, passionate Afghan, falling in love with her ancestral myth–chasing Afghanistan–Shah becomes, at twenty-one, a correspondent at the front of the war between the Soviets and the Afghan resistance. Then, imprisoning herself in a burqa, she risks her life to film Beneath the Veil, her acclaimed record of the devastation of women’s lives by the Taliban. 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.
“Brilliant and moving.” –The New York Times Book Review
“The Storyteller’s Daughter is the work of a confident yet modest and self-effacing woman who is drawn to danger and whose greatest desire is to understand her ‘incompatible worlds of East and West.’ ” –The Washington Post Book World
“Absorbing, heartbreaking. . . . A book about myths and their double-edged power to inspire and delude. . . . Filled with memorable sounds, sights and insights.” –Los Angeles Times
“Both tender and haunting. . . . A stylized work of humility and heartbreaking devastation and dignity.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Heartstopping. . . . Rich and startlingly eventful. . . . The Storyteller’s Daughter has the energy of a necessary catharsis.” –Vogue
“An extraordinary book by a remarkable young woman. . . . There is not likely to be a better one about Afghanistan.” –Doris Lessing
“Her courage takes the breath away.” –O: The Oprah Magazine
“Saira Shah takes us on an extraordinary journey from an English childhood, laced with Afghan myths handed down from her forebears, to the terrors and complexities of present-day Afghanistan. . . . At the end of it you are left with the truest sense of this magical country together with the recognition this exceptional English writer is still unmistakably Afghani.” –Jon Snow
“Invaluable. . . . A beautifully related journey to enlightenmment.” –Rocky Mountain News
“A remarkable and essential book about Afghanistan. . . . It is alive with detail, emotion, myth, fable, bleeding reality, and those laughs and freedoms which arise defiantly out of the darkest of times to assert the human spirit.” –Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, author of Imagining the New Britain
“A rare, much-needed glimpse into a still-closed society.” –Asian Week
“Deeply moving. . . . Here is a book written with resolute grace, much humour and underpinned by an unflinching spirit of enquiry.” —Jason Elliot, author of An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan