(0)
 
A Fort of Nine Towers : An Afghan Family Story
by Qais Akbar Omar

Overview -

One of the rare memoirs""of Afghanistan to have been written by an""Afghan, "A Fort of Nine Towers "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.  Read more...


 
Hardcover
  • Retail Price: $27.00
  • $20.25
    (Save 25%)

Add to Cart + Add to Wishlist

In Stock. Usually ships within 24 hours.

FREE Shipping for Club Members
Not a member? Join Today!
 
 
New & Used Marketplace 43 copies from $5.21
 
Download

This item is available only to U.S. billing addresses.
 
 
 
 

More About A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar
 
 
 
Overview

One of the rare memoirs""of Afghanistan to have been written by an""Afghan, "A Fort of Nine Towers "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. Their neighborhood""found itself on the front line of a""conflict that grew more savage by the day.
With rockets falling around them, ""Omar's family fled, leaving behind everything""they owned to take shelter in an old""fort--only a few miles distant and yet a world""away from the gunfire. 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 they 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.

A "Washington Post "Notable Nonfiction Book of 2013
A "Kirkus Reviews "Best Nonfiction Book of 2013

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374157647
  • ISBN-10: 0374157642
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Publish Date: April 2013
  • Page Count: 396


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-01-28
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this painstaking memoir, Kabul carpet seller and Brandeis M.B.A. student Omar recreates an idyllic childhood gradually wrecked by years of civil war and Taliban oppression. One of some 25 cousins who had the run of the family compound constructed on the Kot-e-Sangi mountainside of Kabul by his grandfather, a Pashtun banker who was also a carpet seller, Omar enjoyed an insular early upbringing, surrounded by doting aunts and uncles, luxuriant gardens, kite flying, copious meals, and a stringent education at school and from his own father, a physics teacher and former boxer who ran a gym near the house. As the factious mujahideen (“holy warriors”) began to fight among each other, living in the compound became untenable, and the extended family took refuge on the other side of the mountain in the mansion owned by his father’s carpet-business partner, a former royal residence now semiruined, called the Qala-e-Noborja, or “Fort of the Nine Towers.” Over subsequent years of turmoil, Omar and his family managed to survive the violence and instability besieging Afghanistan, and whenever they ventured out—for example, when Omar accompanied his grandfather to survey the damage at the old house—the results were horrifying. On one of his fantastic nomadic treks north, he even managed to learn carpet-making from a deaf Turkmen girl with exquisite intuitive technique. Omar’s tale strains credulity, but his prose is deliciously forthright, extravagant, somewhat mischievous, and very Afghan in its sense of long-suffering endurance and also reconciliation. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Growing up where missiles fall

If the U.S. withdraws its combat troops from Afghanistan by late 2014 as planned, it will mark the end of a 13-year American war. But for Afghans, it will be merely the close of the latest chapter in decades of violence that began in the 1970s. For them, there has been little respite from coups, civil war, foreign invasion and terrorism.

Before it all began, Qais Akbar Omar’s extended family was prosperous, well-educated and rooted in its large Kabul compound. The patriarch was his respected grandfather, a successful carpet merchant. His father was a physics teacher and champion boxer; his mother worked in a bank. Then, everything collapsed. Omar’s remarkable memoir of his childhood, A Fort of Nine Towers, describes the family’s suffering and survival during the horrendous years that preceded the American invasion.

Omar is the co-author of Shakespeare in Kabul, but his new book reads more like Les MisĂ©rables than anything by the Bard. As a child and teen, he was held captive more than once, tortured, forced to witness gang rape and summary executions. His clan’s home was lost and its business destroyed. For one remarkable year, his father moved Omar’s immediate family from place to place around northern Afghanistan seeking refuge. For a period, they lived in a cave behind the giant stone Buddhas later destroyed by the Taliban. They even traveled with a band of nomadic herders for a while before returning to Kabul.

Through it all, Omar and his relatives prove themselves courageous and resilient. And in the midst of all the strife, family members are saved time after time by the generosity and bravery of strangers. Omar has a personal epiphany when he is taught carpet weaving by a deaf-mute Turkmen woman, a skill he later uses to survive under the Taliban dictatorship.

Omar is a masterful writer, fully in command of his striking material. He describes from the inside the human cost of what he sees as the pointless struggles among venal warlords and ignorant peasant fundamentalists. He barely knew who Osama bin Laden was—some rich Arab guy living in a mansion—when a whole new wave of trouble arrived with U.S. aerial bombing.

Ultimately, Omar comes to—more or less—like Americans. They are friendly, and always pay full price for carpets. His extraordinary life story should help us better understand the people we are leaving behind.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

DISCUSSION