ONE LIFE: AN AFGHAN REMEMBERS by Abdul Qayum Safi

ONE LIFE: AN AFGHAN REMEMBERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An Afghan who worked and traveled through the Middle East and America shares his story.

Safi’s debut memoir describes his early life in rural Afghanistan and his journey to become educated and find his own path in a conservative society. At first, the book is chronological; he describes growing up with a large family, not using indoor plumbing and getting an education. He also sketches his time at boarding school, his quest for higher education, his marriage to an American woman and his career trajectory. He became a teacher and taught in America and throughout the Middle East; some jobs required that he live away from his family. After outlining his life, the author switches the structure of his book to focus on various themes. One chapter limns the traditional way of finding a wife in the Afghan culture and how the author eventually chose a nontraditional path when he met and married his wife, an American. Another describes the Kuwaiti scholarship system and the differences in higher education among several countries, including Lebanon, the United States and Afghanistan. The author also details the challenges of working abroad and of teaching in a culture even slightly different from one’s own. Finally, he ends with a summary of the current political situation in Afghanistan and shares his opinions about how the country should move forward. This thematic approach works well to elucidate Safi’s points. The chapters also include interesting anecdotes from his own life, and build on stories he has already told to give the reader a clear picture of why they matter. The book could use some reorganization; the chapters based on themes are better at conveying the author’s message than the first, more memoirlike section, but either way, his story is one of hard work and of a dedication to making his own decisions and choosing his own path.

An Afghan’s personal story and insightful perspective on education and other cultural differences in the Middle East.

Pub Date: Dec. 18th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1470068806
Page count: 301pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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