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A Fort of Nine Towers - Book Review

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by Happy Mom (subscribe)
I am a world traveller & a mom of two, (8 & 6). I love to meet people, and am fascinated that there are 7 billion stories out there to be explored. I think Melbourne is the most happening city to live in with all the fun activities around town.
Published June 6th 2013
Story of Courage and Hope
A Captivating Read

It is seldom you pick up a book that once you start reading, you just can't stop. A Fort of Nine Towers, by Qais Akbar Omar is a coming of age memoir written be an Afghan who describes his personal account of experiences through several civil wars that overtake the nation, presenting historical facts along the way. What a story it is! A deeply moving, awe-inspiring, fascinating and spell-binding book that takes you on a roller coaster ride.

Afghanistan is a country that has been troubled for the past few decades, but it was not always like that. It was once a thriving nation. Unfortunately, the recent history of this country has brought it to the attention of the world for some very wrong reasons as the fate of this country became entwined with that of the world itself. This book makes an effort to paint a picture of what Afghanistan was like before the wars literally took over the nation like a cancer spreads through a body, and how the events shaped the mind of a young boy living through these traumatic experiences.

Qais Akbar Omar (Image taken from the personal facebook page of the author)

The author, Qais Akbar Omar, currently manages his family carpet business in Kabul. He has co-authored another book "Shakespeare in Kabul" with Stephen Landrigan. He lectures about Afghani carpets around different cities of the world.

The book is a simple and eloquent narrative. It is a little bit like reading the personal diary or journal of a boy, who is quite young at the beginning of the book, but is a grown man by the end of it. Or I could make the analogy that it is like listening to the personal account first-hand from a young man, while sitting around a campfire, not wanting to walk away even for a toilet break.

The name of the book is inspired by the fort-like building that the narrator and his family are forced to take refuge in during the turmoil taking place in their city. The fort which originally had nine towers is only left with one because of the severe bombing activities and resulting destruction. The description of different parts of Afghanistan during the travels of the family is so realistic that the reader is mesmerized by the scenery, the warm hospitality of the people encountered, the vivid pictures of the changing seasons and geographical territories.

The close encounters with death on more than one occasion make the reader question their own mortality or perhaps marvel at the good fortune of being born in a peaceful part of the world. It is so engrossing that you become tangled in the life of the narrator, and experience his joys, sorrows, sufferings, and finally the triumphs as your own. It makes you cry, disturbs your night sleep and also occasionally makes your heart smile. The horrors described by the author make you wonder in disbelief that such inhumane atrocities can be carried out by humans against other humans (of their own race!!).

I could not put the book down once I started reading it and could not believe when I came to the end of the almost 400 page memoir as I wanted to know more. The book is really a narrative of hope and courage. If you want to learn about what never surfaces in the media, read this book, but beware, as it may haunt you, bring tears to your eyes, question your own ethics and ideologies, and make you wonder about the strength of human willpower. An excellent read, highly recommended.
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Why? To inspire you to read an extraordinary book
When: Whenever you have time
Where: Borrow at your local library or purchase it, and read it in the comfort of your favourite lounge seat
Cost: Free if you borrow from the library or approximately $20 if you purchase it
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