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Storyteller's Daughter
Saira Shah
Price: $ 24

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.

Saira Shah lives in London and is a freelance journalist. She was born in Britain of an Afghan family, the daughter of Idries Shah, a writer of Sufi fables. She first visited Afghanistan at age twenty-one and worked there for three years as a freelance journalist, covering the guerilla war against the Soviet occupiers. Later, working for Britain's Channel 4 News, she covered some of the world's most troubled spots, including Algeria, Kosovo, and Kinshasa, as well as Baghdad and other parts of the Middle East. Her documentary Beneath the Veil was broadcast on CNN.

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