Friday, May 9, 2014

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell-Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell Nadia Hashimi Morrow, May 6 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9780062244758 In Kabul, three Afghan sisters (Shahla, Parwin and Rahima) are walking home from school when a boy on a bike stalks them. They lack male protection with the only man in their lives, their father, often away fighting the Taliban at the side of his Warlord Abdul Khaliq while also addicted to opium. Thus, they can no longer go off by themselves; school is over for them. Their spinster Aunt Khala Shaima tells her nieces the story of their ancestor Shekiba who worked the field alongside her father. Due to a cooking accident, her face was scarred so when her father died, she was placed with her family where they treated her with disdain and taunts until they sold her as a slave. Shekiba wore male garb when she was young because the acceptable bacha posh tradition allowed a young girl to cross-dress until she begins to turn into a woman when a family had no boys. Rahima follows Shekiba’s practice until her father offers her and her siblings in marriage to his Warlord and his cousins. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a profound look at acceptable Afghan customs through two blood relatives a century apart. The American influence proves limited in spite of constitutional changes to provide for women’s rights as it “Looks like nothing's gonna change; everything still remains the same” (Otis Redding’s "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay). With a strong support cast and terrific protagonists, fans will appreciate Nadia Hashimi’s deep comparative tale of female life in Afghanistan, at the turns of the last two centuries Harriet Klausner

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