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In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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"In vibrant but understated prose, Wahab vividly portrays a misunderstood culture, as well as the tense life on military bases where everyone must wear body armor and carry a weapon. While fighting to build a bridge of understanding between her 'native and adoptive nations,' Wahab admirably wages a more universal war--for gender equality, human rights, and peace."
--Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"Extraordinary....detailed, lively...A carefully wrought work that allows a rare look inside Pashtun culture."
About the Author
SAIMA WAHAB was born in Afghanistan, went to Pakistan as a refugee, and moved to the United States as a teenager. Since then she has become one of the only Pashtun female translators in the world, and—among other consequent roles—has returned to Afghanistan several times to work as a cultural adviser with the U.S. Army. She lives in Washington, D.C.
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As an autobiography it really isn't about a Afghan woman, it is about a Pashtun woman, because as you will learn from the book Farsibeans are not "true Afghans". It isn't about an interpreter either. I can limit her accounts of actual interpreting-situations down to a handful and the pieces of information she gives us about this hard job are barely more. As an autobiography it is about a girl who becomes a woman and who tries to live with two nationalities and two cultures interconnected inside of her. I will give her that. One should assume that she could give us an insight into Pashtun culture, explain it in a way that people from Western societies can understand it. She does no such thing.
So it really isn't about what is promised. What is it about then? Saima Wahab and her almost-perfectness. About several love realtionships with soldiers, who she drops at the last minute. Her arrogance is insulting, her refusal to learn more and become better makes me feel ashamed. She abuses her two nationalities as she pleases, one time she is Pashtun and does not want to be looked at by the workers and causes a huge fuzz, another time she is American and does not have to step down to cover her head, even though the female American (!) commander has enough sense in her to just cover her hair and head with a scarf when meeting with Afghan men.
Additionally it is poorly written, repetitive, faulty at times to an extend that a non-native notices. You have to know how the army works and which abrevitations they use to be able to follow her at times.
In short, if you want to learn about Afghan culture, buy a good book about it, this one is just a waste of money.
This was, hands down, one of the most incredible memoirs I have ever read. Saima Wahab is an incredibly fascinating woman. She very eloquently, and honestly, tells her story of life as an outsider. She is outside her own culture from the start, determined to never live the docile and subservient life of a traditional Afghan woman. Yet her Afghan and Pashtun upbringing cause her to also be an outsider within American culture.
So often Americans identify what they deem as problems within other countries and cultures, and rush in to try to "fix" things. They discount the etiquette of these cultures, and end up doing more harm than good many times. This book is an interesting glimpse of the Pashtun culture, and how delicate the interactions between Pashtuns and Americans can be. Saima undertakes a great services that honors both her cultures (American and Pashtun), by trying to facilitate better understanding and communication. The Pashtun culture seems so foreign to me, and in some ways backwards, but this book helped me have a greater understanding.
My heart broke for Saima throughout the book. She clearly was struggling, probably still is actually, with her cultural identity. It is apparent that she greatly dislikes the way women are treated within Pashtun culture, yet she respects them as ancient traditions, and in some ways, defends them quite fiercely. She is a complex woman, and it is easy to see why she struggles with male-female interactions. I felt like the book gave me a real, honest sense of her struggle, and while it was emotionally difficult to read, it really enriched my experience of the book.
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At first you like the main character, Then as the story is told you find her...Read more