Tamim Ansary’s Afghan-American Story

10 November, 2015

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Jordan Elgrably

In West of Kab­ul, East of New York, author Tamim Ansary (Des­tiny Dis­rupt­edGames With­out Rules) has writ­ten a thor­ough­ly per­son­al account of redis­cov­er­ing his mul­ti­ple selves as an Afghan from a rich cul­ture and extend­ed fam­i­ly, an Amer­i­can who came of age in the era of hip­pies and coun­ter­cul­ture; and a Mus­lim in the Sufi tra­di­tion, in search of Islam’s ulti­mate mean­ing and purpose.

Born in Kab­ul, Ansary arrived in the States at the age of 16. He is the prod­uct of an Aghan father edu­cat­ed abroad and an Amer­i­can moth­er from Chica­go. For 35 years he adapt­ed to Amer­i­can life, becom­ing a writer in San Fran­cis­co. It was­n’t until the events of 9/11 that he decid­ed it was time to go home again.

His sto­ry­telling is straight­for­ward and engag­ing, heart­warm­ing­ly so, because Ansary is a writer who cares not only about his pro­tag­o­nist (in this case him­self) but all his char­ac­ters, major and minor. The non­fic­tion nar­ra­tive, writ­ten after the events of 9/11 in an attempt to unveil Ansary’s remem­brance of Afghanistan for unknow­ing Amer­i­can read­ers, is a gen­uine page-turn­er and an adven­ture sto­ry that should be read any any­one wish­ing to see the con­nec­tions and com­mon caus­es of east and west. In this book, it comes down to fam­i­ly and love of one’s coun­try, and that’s some­thing we can all relate to—American or Afghan, Arab or Jew, Catholic, Bud­dhist or athe­ist. Above all, Ansary is a nat­ur­al bridge­builder between civilizations.

If only politi­cians could be this empath­ic. Read this book and share it with friends. —Jor­dan Elgrably

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