Tuesday, September 13, 2011
A remarkable new novel you won't be able to put down
“I was reminded of where I was once I heard the soldiers making noises in the yard of the camp.
Another day in Helmand.
“My senses opened hesitantly yet again to the mud-ceilinged room, and my heart seemed to lose all is saddened beats ...”
So begins Shah Wali Fazli’s remarkable novel about the life of an Afghan interpreter assigned to American soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. He knows well what he writes about, as he was once one of the interpreters about whom he writes so eloquently and with such sympathy.
It is not, as they say, “a cake walk.” It is a nightmare, especially when the main Taliban group you’re fighting is led by a man known as Mullah Dozakhi, a killer with a personal vendetta of hate against you because you once bested one of his men in a karate match in Kabul. What kind kind of person is this Mullah Dozakhi? “He had lived his entire life dealing out retribution, death and destruction. How could he stop all that? [He] had built a reputation for destroying other people’s lives. Why should he stop now?” And he is out to kill you and your American friends.
Having read Khaled Husseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, and Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban, the story is a familiar one. Schooled in a doctrine soaked in resentment and hate, the Taliban are poisonous. But so are the warlords, many of whom dominate the Karzai government in Kabul.
The Interpreter is a book I won’t soon forget, and neither will you. Very well told, it is a book to treasure. I left it knowing the bond that exists between soldiers and their interpreters and between the interpreters who do such dangerous work. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Shah Wali Fazli for writing it, and for Night Publishing for publishing it so that we can all read it.
A definite 5 star read.