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Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep Paperback – International Edition, June 25, 2002


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One woman?s harrowing story about life under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Shirin-Gol was just a young girl when her village was levelled by the Russians in 1979. When the men in her family joined the resistance, she fled with the other women and children to Kabul, and so began a life of day-to-day struggle in her war-torn country.

A life that included a Pakistani refugee camp, a forced marriage to pay off her brother?s gambling debts, selling her body and begging for money to feed her growing family, an attempted suicide and an unsuccessful attempt to leave Afghanistan for Iran after the Taliban seized control of her country.

This is the story of the fate of many women in Afghanistan. But it is also a story of a courageous and proud woman who refused to be banished to a life behind the walls of her house, who wanted an education for her children so that they could have a chance to live their lives without fear and poverty.

About the Author

Siba Shakib is an Iranian/German filmmaker, writer, political activist, and former advisor to UN mandated peace troops in Afghanistan. She is the author of Samira and Samir. Several of her documentaries have won awards, including a German Human Rights film prize on the 50th anniversary of the UN Human Rights declaration, for her film A Flower for the Women of Kabul. Born and raised in Tehran, she now lives in New York and Germany.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Century (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712623396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712623391
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Soheila Ghaussy on December 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read Siba Shakib's novel Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep in the original German, and I am excited to read the novel in its English translation. I was deeply moved by Shakib's descriptions of the fate of the strong and independent Shirin Gol, a woman, who like so many women in Afghanistan, survived the trauma of war and its harrowing consequences. Yet, unlike the many accounts of horror and victimization I have encountered when reading about the fate of Afghan women, this novel does not strip its main character of her dignity and strength. Shirin Gol is a resourceful, powerful woman who refuses to give in to despair when faced with the kinds of hardship that seem unimaginable as accounts of a lived reality. Yet, Shirin Gol's tragic story is exemplary for the way many Afghan women have had to adjust their lives to the shifty conditions of their beloved, mutilated country. As the resilient Shirin Gol struggles to come to terms with the violence of war, to see her children through the numerous agonizing journeys from Afghanistan to Pakistan's refugee camps and back, and to help her shell-shocked husband through his increasingly debilitating opium addiction, we feel Siba Shakib's deep compassion for Afghanistan and the Afghan people and her empathy for the brave women in this sad and hopeful, poetically rendered story. Mirroring Afghanistan's sparse and picturesque landscape, the novel's style is also starkly beautiful -- written with an ear for lyrical story-telling in the best of oral narrative traditions and with an open eye for the reality of the hardships of a dispossessed and dislocated people. Hence, this novel is not merely painful to read, but also gripping. If the English translation is able to grasp Shakib's bitter-sweet nomadic voice, the novel will speak to its readers about Afghanistan in an unforgetful way, and forgetting Afghanistan is something the world cannot afford.
(December 2003)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book in German before it came out here. I'm sure the English version is equally good. It provides a lot of insight on day to day challenges of life in Afganisthan (or actually the life of a refugee at times). It is easy and very pleasent to read, even though the subject matter is not pleasent at all.
However, it is a novel after all, and in my opinion a novel should be fun to read even though the subject is rather grim. It also provides some valuable history and cultural background information. Obiously written from the view point of the protagonist and not a social study. ...But, isn't that what we read novels for? Otherwise one would choose research studies and not novels..
To cut a long story short: this is a MUST read! It became one of my favorites. I like it much better than Tamin Ansary's book "East of New York, West of Kabul".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Professor Joseph L. McCauley on January 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Convincing account of ..., August 26, 2004

... the dismal servanthood (should we say slavery?) of women under Islamic fundamentalism. Written in the context of the life of a (girl, then) woman who has nothing, who migrates from one refugee camp to the next with her growing family. Is it pure novel or partly biography? In any case, the book is extremely well-written and is made more interesting by virtue of the fact that Siba Shakib is Iranian.

What stood out most for me in the story of Shirin-Gol: 1. Being forced to go to "Russian School" to learn to read and write made all the difference for her, made her 'rebellious' and aware that she should demand and have rights. 2. The Mujahedin practice of "pulling off the shirt" from the waist upward of young Russian soldiers. 3. The sexual misuse of young boys by the Taleban (see also "The Kite Runner"). 4. The massive illiteracy of the populace, including the mullas.

This book can and should be read parallel to Aasne Seierstad's "Bokhandleren i Kabul", which tells an analogous story of repressed and degraded women from the middle-upper class perspective. A list of the puritanic rules imposed by the Taleban is given in one of the chapters.

This review is based on the German original, which is extremely well-written. It took several years for the bookto appeared in the US. Maybe it's one of the most informative books for our era of terrorism by religious fundamentalists against freedom-loving people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Coble on March 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would like for Siba Shakib to write a sequel to her Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep and hear an update on the family that went through so many horror's from the Russians, Taliban, Pakistan, Iran, etc. The mother is a survivor of the worst condition's that I cannot imagine. I pray that she is having a better life with the American's being around. Nancy Coble
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