Gifts of the State-Adam Klein
A number of stories about every day life, supernatural myths, and things in between set in Afghanistan and written by Afghanis.
As with any book of short stories, there are those that stand out and those that fade into the background. Some of the writing is stilted but then again, these are written by non-writers in their third or fourth language in the midst of war. That alone lends weight to the narratives contained in the book but really, it was the surprising flow of the book from the excellent imagery of one author, to the strange but familiar plot of another. The prose is often spare, almost Hemingway spare, but the imagery is as vibrant as the mountains of Afghanistan. The stories are often heartbreaking, not always about war, but informed by the daily experience of the writers. The stories intelligently address gender, class, tradition, the city, and the countryside. This anthology is an invaluable antidote to the prevailing distancing media since most of the stories are character studies embedded in the lived experiences of these young Aghanis. You are learning about distinct personalities, the ones stuck in limbo, and striving forwards towards an unknowable tomorrow (followed by the ghosts of their history).