Storyteller's Daughter by Saira Shah

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Imagine that a jewel-like garden overlooking Kabul is your ancestral home. Imagine a kitchen made fragrant with saffron strands and cardamom pods simmering in an authentic pilau. Now remember that you were born in London, your family in exile, and that you have never seen Afghanistan in peacetime.

These are but the starting points of Saira Shah’s memoir, by turns inevitably exotic and unavoidably heartbreaking, in which she explores her family’s history in and out of Afghanistan. As an accomplished journalist and documentarian–her film Beneath the Veil unflinchingly depicted for CNN viewers the humiliations forced on women under Taliban rule–Shah returned to her family’s homeland cloaked in the burqa to witness the pungent and shocking realities of Afghan life. As the daughter of the Sufi fabulist Idries Shah, primed by a lifetime of listening to her father’s stories, she eagerly sought out, from the mouths of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the rich and living myths that still sustain this battered culture of warriors. And she discovered that in Afghanistan all the storytellers have been men–until now.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Saira Shah

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Saira Shah has won three Emmys for her films Unholy War, Beneath the Veil, and Death in Gaza. She has also written an autobiography, The Storyteller’s Daughter. Saira retired from filmmaking in 2003 and divides her time between the UK and France.
Published December 18, 2007 by Anchor. 274 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Shah, whose 2001 television documentary Beneath the Veil examined the realities of Afghan women’s lives under the Taliban, asserts that she has within her two incompatible people: a middle-class liberal pacifist and a “rapacious robber baron” who “glories in risk.” She was raised in England on he...

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Publishers Weekly

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Born in England and raised on her father's fantastic stories of an Afghanistan she had never known, Shah spends her adult life searching for a mythic place of beauty.

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Entertainment Weekly

Of all the atrocities depicted in Shah's eye-opening memoir about the horrors and subtle beauties of Afghanistan, this one is the most memorable: ''The locals had posted up a warning to America: 'We yearn for death more than you yearn for life.''' Born in England, journalist Shah grew up on h...

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