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Freshta [Paperback]

Petra Prochazkova , Julia Sherwood
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

15 Oct 2012
Welcome to Kabul: one family, countless secrets. When Herra, a Russian-Tadjik woman, falls in love with Nadir, an Afghan, she has no idea about the life that awaits her in post-Taliban Afghanistan, nor about the family she is about to join. A grandfather who is a feminist, an adopted young boy who astounds with his intellect, and Freshta, who will do anything to run away from her abusive husband. Like the other women in the family, Herra wears a burqa and hides in a closet when guests arrive. But when she starts a new job with an American woman, Heidi, she soon realizes how little understanding Westnerners have of the way women live in Afghanistan, and still less that not everybody is waiting to be saved. Freshta is a stunning debut about conceptions of human faith in a war-stricken country. It is a deeply moving story that will make you laugh and cry at the same time, a universal tale of husbands and wives, lovers and friends, who seek happiness and acceptance against the backdrop of the unexpected events playing around them.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Stork Press Ltd; 1st Edition edition (15 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957132646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957132641
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,310,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Assured debut, Freshta, a bitter-sweet hymn to Afghanistan told from an outsider's perspective. (Lucy Popescu, Huffington Post) Plenty of humour...I cannot recommend the book high enough. (Zuzana Slobodova, British, Czech and Slovak Review) A surprisingly easy read...diverse and hugely entertaining cast of characters...moving and funny in the most unexpected ways. (Judging Covers) Brilliant, insightful and entertaining (Shapeshifting Green) Prochazkova is expert at creating scenes of familial chaos with ten things happening at once, and emotions running high (Little Words) A highly engaging story with characters whose vividness is matched by their ability to generate empathy (Blogbook) The plot is gripping, the characters convincing and the story ultimately life-affirming - Highly recommended! (A Discount Ticket to Everywhere) A revelation, an unexpected blend of humour and pragmatism...a fantastic novel that reads as warm, intelligent fiction. (Alex in Leeds)

About the Author

Petra Prochazkova is an award-winning Czech journalist, humanitarian worker and writer. In 1994, she founded the private news agency Epicentrum, dedicated to war reporting with fellow journalist Jaromir Aetitina. On her return to the Czech Republic, Petra founded the humanitarian organization Berkat for the support of children and women in Chechnya and Afghanistan. In 1997 she was awarded the Ferdinand Peroutka Prize, and in 2000 the President of the Czech Republic presented her with a Medal of Merit. In 2001, the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award was bestowed on her by Madeleine Albright. Freshta is Petra's first novel translated into English.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars wild and famished 16 Sep 2013
This is clever and provocative novel which does not overtly moralise or judge but instead provides an intriguing and often heart-rending insight into Afgan culture and family life.
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By MrsC
This is a very different novel to other books I read set in Afghanistan like Hosseini's The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns or Seierstad's Bookseller in Kabul. I was expecting another `brutal and heart-breaking' story but this novel was quite refreshing and surprisingly amusing with some impossibly funny scenes. Set in Kabul, the novel tells the story of one family narrated by half-Russian, half-Tadjik woman - Herra who relocates from Russia after she marries an Afghan. This book has some wonderful and memorable characters: Grandpa, a feminist who does not shy away from bashing other male members of the family for disrespecting women or insists on sending girls to school, and Mad, the disfigured boy, adopted by the family, who turns out to be very sensitive and clever.

Herra is quite critical about Western humanitarian organisations and the ignorance of Americans towards Afghan culture, language and customs. This element of the book was very enjoyable and honest, rather than the usual portrayal of Americans as the good guys who bring the Western values of democracy and freedom. This book forced me to open my eyes and introduced a different perspective to Afghanistan and ordinary people who live there. Another thing that caught my eye is the beautiful design of the book, the cover and spine are simply gorgeous.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read 13 Jan 2013
'Freshta' tells the story of Herra and Freshta. The narrator, Herra, a Russian who married an Afghan, Nazir, whom she met at university in Moscow, lives with her husband's family and suffers from childlessness. However, one day a child is brought to them. Mad, an intelligent and loving child, is deformed and acts as Herra's sidekick and protector throughout the book. Her sister-in-law, Freshta, married for love, but is subject to repeated beatings at the hands of her husband. The household also includes Nazir and Freshta's father, mother and grandfather, as well as Freshta's children. The grandfather tells stories of a time before the Taliban, when women were more educated and liberated, and is a bit of a feminist. Freshta's daughter, Roshangol, feels stifled by her father and fears being forced into an unwanted marriage. The hopes, fears and fates of these characters are interwoven in a compelling tale.

The novel comes from an interesting point of view, as Herra is both an insider, having married an Afghan and lived there for many years when the book starts, and an outsider, as she is Russian, and continuously struggles with this dual identity. She is in between the reader and other Afghans she encounters, having experienced greater freedom and acquired an education in the earlier part of her life, but also having adapted to her local context.

This is the story of the struggle to adapt to a new Afghanistan and of how Western involvement in Afghanistan affects the family. It gives us the Afghan perspective on Americans and Europeans waltzing in to 'save' Afghan women and criticises them for their cultural insensitivity, and their belief that they can understand Afghan culture just by reading a book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary view in to the lives of Afghan women 30 April 2014
By C. Melcher - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a clear eyed view of life in post-Taliban Afghanistan for Herra, a Russian-Tadjik woman who falls in love with an Afghan man,
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