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A Fort of Nine Towers Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Length: 409 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Review

To read this book is to understand Afghanistan as it exists today. This haunting memoir traces the unimaginable odyssey of one family whose world has collapsed. But it is also a chilling ground-zero chronicle of the beleaguered nation's darkest hours of the last three decades. Poetic, powerful, and unforgettable. (Khaled Hosseini, author of THE KITE RUNNER)

'If you read only one book this summer, make it this one.' Jeanette Winterson, O Magazine

'Omar's beautifully written book is an affecting account of survival in the midst of brutality and fear, and a testament to the importance of family and friendships in a place where neighbours turned on neighbours.' Sunday Times

'Qais Akbar Omar's memoir sets out . . . to show us the ordinary Afghanistan as well as the horror . . . Yet for all the horrors he has seen and the loved ones he has lost, there is no desire for vengeance in this account, only a profound stoicism.' The Times

'Qais Akbar Omar, an Afghan journalist and carpet-maker . . . conjures alarming images with a child's clarity: his father driving the family to safety as dead bodies sprawl by the roadside: a pit of decapitated human heads . . . his father tied up and viciously bitten for the amusement of a warlord.' Independent

'Foreigners rarely penetrate the rich cultural depths of Afghanistan. Here at last is a powerful, haunting memoir that does justice to its tough, tenacious and astonishingly good-humoured people. The best thing about it . . . is that it is a book about Afghanistan written by an Afghan.’ Evening Standard

'The first true life memoir of growing up in Kabul, this is both a magical and a chilling book which conveys the strength of family in truly terrible times. Definitely on my recommend list for 2013.’ Christina Lamb

'Among Omar's many achievements, his greatest is in capturing a child's world without undercutting the depth of his book. ... exhilarating and unsettling, because this is Omar's lived experience, and one that is far stranger than fiction, though written in surprisingly refined prose for a writer who taught himself English to become an interpreter for Coalition soldiers.' Independent

'A poetic, funny and terrifying memoir of life in Kabul between the Soviet Army's exit and the Taliban's retreat.' Economist

'Mind-boggling yet matter-of-fact, A Fort of Nine Towers is the memoir of a childhood in ’90s Afghanistan — a riveting story of war as seen through a child’s eyes and summoned from an adult’s memory . . . Omar and his family spend most of the book desperately searching for a way out of Afghanistan; they have finally raised the money for a smuggler when the twin towers fall. With the start of American airstrikes on the Taliban’s strongholds, Omar’s father digs his heels in. “I’m not leaving until I find out who these people” — the latest interlopers in his country’s affairs, that is — “are,” he declares. Resilience, of course, is itself a kind of stubbornness. Overcome with love for his homeland, Omar too ultimately pledges to stay so he can help rebuild the country. “I know it will take a long time,” he says. “I am a carpet weaver. I know how, slowly, one knot follows another until a pattern appears.”' New York Times

'This is a book for those who love Afghanistan, for those who want to understand it, or simply for those who value deeply the best in the human spirit. It is a tale that deserves to rank with The Kite Runner.' Ronald E. Neumann, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and president of the American Academy of Diplomacy

'Omar’s prose is deliciously forthright, extravagant, and somewhere mischievous, and very Afghan in its sense of long-suffering endurance and also reconciliation.' Publishers Weekly

'Afghan author Qais Akbar Omar’s story tugs at the heartstrings yet it is not maudlin or sentimental, only

nostalgic and deeply evocative of his way of life . . . His moving story will broaden your focus and understanding of an

oft-maligned country.' The Chronicle



'An extraordinary memoir that [...] is even more haunting than The Kite Runner, because it's not fiction.' Philidelphia Inquirer

'Lucid, moving ... The painful, sometimes funny human complexities of such anecdotes make Omar's book more than simply an eye-opening accout of a terrible period in recent history, though it's valuable enough as that ... a classic autobiography of universal resonance.' Newsday

'A Fort of Nine Towers [is] a powerful coming-of-age tale set in Afghanistan [... B]eautifully written, with the pacing and suspense of a novel, his memoir contains moments when the grief becomes almost too difficult to bear. Nonetheless, his richly detailed account of growing up in Afghanistan [...] is deeply fulfilling, remarkable not least because he lived to tell the tale. The product of an immensely talented writer, A Fort of Nine Towers puts a human face on the violent history of Afghanistan' Rachel Newcom, author of Women of Fes: Amibiguities of Life in Urban Morocco and The Gift

‘I know of no other book in which the complex realities of life – and death – in contemporary Afghanistan are so starkly and intimately portrayed. This brave memoir, rich in tough humour and insight, recounts an insider’s view into both the suffering and integrity of an uncompromisingly proud and courageous people; above all, it is a powerful reminder of the extraordinary tenacity of a culture which foreigners have repeatedly and fatally misjudged.’ Jason Elliot, author of An Unexpected Light and Mirrors of the Unseen

'Qais Akbar Omar’s tale of one family’s journey during the Afghan civil war is inscriptional: its images carve themselves into the reader’s mind . . . This book is essential reading for anyone eager to learn what more than three decades of war have cost the Afghan people.' Eliza Griswold, author of the New York Times bestseller The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam

'In this stark, unflinching memoir, Qais Akbar Omar illuminates the beauty and tragedy of a country pushed to the brink by war. A Fort of Nine Towers gives voice to the unbreakable spirit of the Afghan people.' G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen

'A story of a supportive family surviving against unbelievable odds.' Illawarra Mercury

'Qais Akbar Omar reminds us of the honor and courage of his people. A remarkable feat of memory and imagination.' Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, author of The Watch and The Storyteller of Marrakesh

'As lyrical as it is haunting, this mesmerizing, not-to-be-missed debut memoir is also a loving evocation of a misunderstood land and people . . . A gorgeously rich tapestry of an amazing life and culture.' Kirkus, starred review

'The story of Qais's family and their remarkable survival . . . As he shares this long journey, through terror, loss, heartbreak, and sudden moments of joy, Qais's spirit still shines.' Queensland Times

Book Description

Qais Akbar Omar was eleven when a brutal civil war engulfed Kabul. For Qais, it brought an abrupt end to a childhood filled with kites and cousins in his grandfather’s garden: one of the most convulsive decades in Afghan history had begun. Ahead lay the rise of the Taliban, and, in 2001, the arrival of international forces. A Fort of Nine Towers is the story of Qais, his family and their determination to survive these upheavals as they were buffeted from one part of Afghanistan to the next. Drawing strength from each other, and their culture and faith, they sought refuge for a time in the Buddha caves of Bamyan, and later with a caravan of Kuchi nomads. When they eventually returned to Kabul, it became clear that their trials were just beginning.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2304 KB
  • Print Length: 409 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (9 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BUOA25I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #147,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Qais Akbar Omar (whose first name pronounced "Kice") is the author of A Fort of Nine Towers, published in more than twenty countries. He was born in 1982 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Currently he is a fellow at Harvard University. He is the coauthor, with Stephen Landrigan, of Shakespeare in Kabul.

Omar serves as a goodwill envoy for Aschiana Foundation in Kabul and for the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A gripping book from start to finish. It tracks the life of Qais, from his happy childhood in Kabul before the arrival of the Mujahideen, to his journeys with his family across Afghanistan in search of a safe haven, to life under the Taliban rule as a young man.

Qais had an incredible journey and he tells it well. I've already recommended it to all my friends as I think anyone can enjoy this, whether they're just interested in the history, the culture, current events or human interest stories.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have never written a book review but having read Qais's first book (written with Steve Landrigan) Shakespeare in Kabul, I read The Fort of Nine Towers. Wow, this story of Qais's life in Kabul as a child and young adult is humbling, frightening and spell binding. This truly enthralling story has the pace of a thriller at times, the charm of a modest man at others and the underlying ability of an Afgan story teller throughout. I have no hesitation in recommending it to others.
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By Gogol VINE VOICE on 30 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book is an autobiography of the authors life in Afghanistan, stretching from the fall of the Communist puppet regime in Kabul, through the civil war up to the rise and fall of the Taliban. I must say, read this book in a day. Not because its badly written but simply because it was such a gripping entertaining read.

First of all its very well written. The author is very matter of fact in how he writes, the reader is not bogged down with over emotion nor of side taking. The style of writing is easy on the eye and encourages the reader to read on. You want to know more about the authors life, the authors family, the people of Afghanistan. The author has in short, kept things simple and kept the reader wanting to read more.

The book starts with the family living through the fall of Kabul to the Mujahideen. The coalition of Afghan forces who fought against and defeated the Soviet troops and their Afghan allies. The family were an educated Afghan family however traditional and with a strong sense of patriotism for their land. They supported the Mujahideen as liberators of Afghanistan from a foreign army.

The optimism is short lived as the city is soon gripped by civil war between the victorious factions and their home is on the front line. I must say, I did not know a great deal about Afghanistan during this period of its history but it is truly horrific to read from a first hand source the level of barbarity the people of Afghanistan were subject to. The garden full of decapitated heads, the rape of women it really is hard to read.

Later still life under the Taliban is covered during a time when the author was a student at University.
Read more ›
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By Jood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Written from the author's perspective in a simplistic, almost childlike, way this is a moving account of his childhood in war torn Afghanistan.

Qais Akbar Omar was a child in Kabul when his peaceful carefree life of school, kite-flying and picnics, was changed when the Russians retreated and the madness of the Mujahedin began. The Afghans thought their country would be able to rule itself, and calm and prosperity would be maintained. It was not to be as warlords fought amongst themselves, and innocent, peace-loving people were caught up in the violence. Qais tells us how his family fled to safety, far too many of them,crammed into one car as the ground trembles from rockets, and snipers bullets zip through the air. A mere five miles away was safety, albeit temporary.

This is both heartbreaking and uplifting book which opens the window on a country we know too little about. Most of our knowledge comes from footage on the news, which is more often than not a report on how many soldiers have been killed and not the families who have been affected.

It's difficult for most of us, who have no experience of this to understand what it must be like, but he has conveyed it very well. Anybody interested in what happens to the people of a country torn apart by war should read this.

Some reviewers have said this book is “poorly written”, but that is a failure to understand how and why this book has been written and that English is not this author's first language. I wonder how many of us could speak even one word of his language.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Compelling if chilling at times, story of one man's life growing up in Afghanistan in the latter 1900's . He has such an engaging way of relating both happy times and the horrific times,you feel as if he is sitting with you. He describes his lovely family so well ,I would love to meet them in person. He is frank,pulling no punches when telling of his shocking experiences with the Taliban. Not for the squeamish in some parts but never the less, it's good for us here in UK to know what horrific times everyone in Kabul must have gone through during the Taliban takeover. I say it is chilling in places as I speculate could it ever happen in UK? Lovely insight to family life of how Afghans lived in happy times. I was pleased to read at the end his account of what happened to his family members and friends later on when things had returned more or less to normal but alas wonder what has happened now when things have gone sour again.God Bless them and give them peace.
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