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Homebody/Kabul: Final Revised Version Paperback – February 3, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The playwright of ideas compels us to look afresh at tinderbox issues in a feverish search for understanding the near unsavable world of Homebody/Kabul. It’s about desolation and love in land-mined places, private agony and public squalor, fathers and daughters, the Babel of language and lost civilizations, disintegrating, rotting cultures, sordid Western values and furious opposites, murderers and fanatics, opium highs and tranquilized lives lived out in disgust and self-obliteration. It’s about travel in the generous, best sense of the word—travel of the exploding, despairing mind and soul. To where? A place where warring people might one day meet, where steps can be relearned and the meaning of words reborn. The voice of yearning within Homebody/Kabul has now become more urgent, as if time were running out in sickness of heart and soul. Name me a better play of our time—for our time.” –John Heilpern, New York Observer

“Tony Kushner’s searching epic of ideas restores lost connections between theater, thinking and current events. Perhaps no one but Kushner could provide such compelling guidance through the devastation of Kabul, in all its blasted complexity.” –Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

“Of course, we’ve come to expect celestial wordplay and cosmically elevated thoughts from Kushner, author of A Bright Room Called Day, Slavs! and the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning opus Angels in America. We’ve also come to expect plays that aren’t neat and tidy, that force you to engage rather than passively absorb and don’t let you race home in time to catch the eleven o’clock news…Few, if any, modern English-language playwrights of ideas can match Kushner’s intellectual sweep, his subtle but razor-edged sense of humor and his gift for peeling back layers of character until we finally see the naked human within. Even fewer can equal his fiery moral passion or sheer gutsiness. With Homebody/Kabul Kushner has dared to walk through a contemporary minefield, a dramatic terra incognita, without the benefit of a Baedeker to guide him, and emerged intact on the other side with a powerful story to tell.” –Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times

“Searing…Kushner’s use of language and ideas continues to make us think about the deeper questions…a masterful conglomerate of words, ideas, and history.” –Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times

“Brilliant…this is a play for those who are interested in the root causes that preceded September 11, for those who can see through the fog of patriotism to the finer distinctions, who are finally ready to ask how on earth do we get out of this godforsaken place, who can bear to contemplate the thought that we have participated to some extent in our own tragedy.” –James Reston Jr., American Theatre

“Kushner, a writer who is always on high alert to humanity as well as history, has, in the Homebody, created a character—an ‘impassioned, fluttery, doomed’ character—who is timeless as well as timely.” –Nancy Franklin, New Yorker

Homebody/Kabul is a welcome payoff for all who’ve been waiting a decade for a worthy follow-up to Kushner’s landmark Angels in America. Kushner’s plunge into the murky whirlpools of Afghan history, culture, and politics is astonishing in its intellectual scope. It is also fierce in its dramatic engagement with complex realities and deeply humane. Kushner has led and provoked our minds as richly as he’s engaged our sympathies.” –Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

“Dazzingly written, insightful and timely. The playwright’s generous viewpoint is liberal and progressive. His language is rich, his canvas is vast and his storytelling dynamic.” –Michael Sommers, Newark Star-Ledger

“Homebody/Kabul is a rich and intelligent piece.” –Peter Brook

“A richly interesting play…most American dramatists look inwards. Tony Kushner has always gazed outwards. And not the least remarkable fact about Homebody/Kabul, written well before the events of last September, is that it attempts to embrace and explain the history, culture and ethos of Afghanistan.” –Michael Billington, The Guardian (UK)

About the Author

Tony Kushner’s plays include Angels in America; Hydriotaphia, or the Death of Dr. Brown; The Illusion, adapted from the play by Pierre Corneille; Slavs!; A Bright Room Called Day; Homebody/Kabul; Caroline, or Change, a musical with composer Jeanine Tesori; and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’s film of Angels in America and for Steven Spielberg’s Munich and Lincoln. His books include The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present; Brundibar, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon.
Among many honors, Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award, two Oscar nominations, and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Theatre Communications Group; Rev Sub edition (February 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559362391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559362399
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Kushner's plays include A Bright Room Called Day and Slavs!; as well as adaptations of Corneille's The Illusion, Ansky's The Dybbuk, Brecht's The Good Person of Szecguan and Goethe's Stella. Current projects include: Henry Box Brown or The Mirror of Slavery; and two musical plays: St. Cecilia or The Power of Music and Caroline or Change. His collaboration with Maurice Sendak on an American version of the children's opera, Brundibar, appeared in book form Fall 2003. Kushner grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and he lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to see this performed in New York last year. This play unleashes great torrents of language and ideas at every turn and is the theatrical equivalent of a clusterbomb. Yet, with time to read and mull, it becomes something quite different.
Years of work and research are hung on the frame of a simple melodrama about a father and daughter searching in a strange country for a wife and mother. Kushner's mythical Afghanistan is a place where the tower of Babel toppled and people speak everything from Russian to Esperanto. The hapless British thrust into this burka'd world will never grasp that we in the west have "succumbed to luxury" -- though perhaps the audience will.
Some other reviewers found the Homebody's monologue dull on the page. I assure you it is quite stirring in performance. The same may be said of much of the play which, like Angels in America, is unwieldy but brilliant. Kushner has admitted in interviews that the play should be trimmed but I think, when reading the play, the overambitiousness is a plus. Kushner is a playwright with a social consciousness, but also a literary and poetic conscientiousness. The use of 'sunny' as an adjective recalls Sunni and the etymology of Quango's name is a play unto itself.
This play is 'about' too many things to effectively say what it is about. I appreciate it as a feast of language and a virtuoso display of Kushner's talent. While it may run long and fail to cohere thematically, it is shorter and more thematically coherent than Angels. What is a clusterbomb in the theater is chocolate cake when iced with covers.
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Format: Paperback
I have been a huge Tony Kushner fan ever since i read and subsequently performed in Angels in America my first and second years of college. I bought Homebody/Kabul as soon as it came out in paperback, and was fortunate enough to see it performed at the Intiman Theater in Seattle recently. After reading and seeing this play, my love for Kushner and his work has only deepened.
At this point, to call Kushner a master of language is to belabor the point. He capable of provoking any reaction under the sun, from hilarity to pathos to utter despair, with a simple, poetic phrase one moment, then a completely different reaction the next. I also won't waste time your time with my interpretation of the "message" of the play, though it certainly has many messages. The first act of Homebody/Kabul consist of one character (the Homebody) sitting in a chair recounting a selective history of Afghanistan mixed in with stories from her life, for an entire hour! Now, read on the page this can get tedious at times, though the stories are interesting. But Ellen McLaughlin, the masterful actor who performed the role in Seattle, sat on stage in one place for that whole hour and commanded the entire attention of the audience. It was mind-boggling, awe-inspiring, transporting, and reminded me forcibly of the difference between reading and performance. McLaughlin took the, admittedly brilliantly constructed, words on the page and turned them into something vital, poetic, and magical.
The rest of the play deals with the aftermath of the Homebody's decision to go to Kabul and disappear. Her husband Milton and her daughter Priscilla, hearing she has been killed, go to Kabul to recover her body. Soon evidence turns up that she may have taken the veil and married a Muslim man.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although some readers may be disappointed the Tony Kushner's latest play is not at all similar to his first great play, ANGELS IN AMERICA, it is one of the best plays of the decade. Kushner begins with a character who is drawn to travel to Afghanistan where she disappears. Her husband and grown daughter arrive in Kabul under the Taliban to find their wife/mother. They never do find her, but instead are exposed to life in Afghanistan under the Taliban -- a country retaining aspects of its great history, but living in a present of oppression and fear. Through this, Kushner explores the West's culpability in the tragedy of Afghanistan, the ability of the human spirit to survive under the worst possible circumstances, and the need on both sides to truly experience and understand the other. The play is filled with Kushner's trademark style -- a Brechtian, cinematic structure -- and lyrical flights of language, rich characterizations, and fascinating, disturbing ideas about a part of the world few Americans understood or knew much about prior to the tragedies of September 11. Now, more than ever, this play raises some of the most important questions of our time.
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Format: Paperback
Tony Kushner, who with "Angels in America" arguably gave us the two greatest works of American drama since "Death of a Salesman," continues his drive to create a grand theatrical voice with "Homebody/Kabul."
And though he falls far short in his attempt, it feels a little crass to fault him for it. This play should be appreciated for its ambition and for the unabashed joy Kushner shows for the intricacy and the density of the English language. His work is great to read even when it ultimately misses the mark.
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Format: Paperback
Like Angels in America, Kushner juxtaposes two seemingly different people and their respective societies, only to show how similar they really are. What are more absurd, Kushner seems to ask, some of the obvious horrors of life in Afghanistan, or some of the subtle opiates that constitute life in the Western world? Neither society appears to be fulfilling in the long run, though a change of scenery seems to be the tonic. Kushner describes a world in which the insanity of one world appears to be the cure for the insanity caused by the other.
This play is certainl though-provoking, and not easily forgotten. I'd love to see it in the theater.
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