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Born Under a Million Shadows Paperback – 23 Apr 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (23 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552775630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552775632
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This beautifully told tale will capture the reader's heart...powerful and moving" (The Sun)

"Beautifully written, touching and laced with humour, it's a stunningly assured debut from a writer who looks set to be a big star" (News of the World)

Review

Beautifully written, touching and laced with humour, it's a stunningly assured debut.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By G.B Doha on 14 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a pleasure to read. Combining the foreign characters with the locals is very well done, and is true to the actual reality. The statements that Fawad comes out with, and his exchanges with the local shop owner is so very amusing. Born Under a Million Shadows is about the day to day life of Afghans, and Ms Busfield demonstrates that she truly understands the culture and family traits. The story line is delightful despite the shadow of sorrow, and it was enjoyable to read a book about real people "on the floor" with only minimal politics to help set the "scene".

I greatly look forward to the release of Ms. Busfield's second book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kim Hatton on 2 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book, easy to get into and hard to put down. The news we hear of Afghanistan, full of military operations, casualties, opium harvests and fraudulent elections, makes it hard to imagine growing up there. Andrea Busfield achieves this on our behalf. Her narrator an eleven - or perhaps twelve - year old boy opens with: "My name is Fawad and my mother tells me I was born under the shadow of the Taliban."

Taking this literally he thinks of her, `stepping out of the sunshine and into the dark', and this child's way of seeing the puzzling world around him sets the tone. We encounter the horrors and hardships through his innocent eyes and although he speaks of his fear and his sadness there is also humour and joy.

At the start of the book Fawad's father and brother have been killed, his sister abducted and their home burnt down. They live without welcome or comfort with his aunt and young cousins who beg from and hustle foreigners. Life improves overnight when Farad's mother gets a position as housekeeper to three foreigners living in a wealthy suburb of Kabul. Georgie, James and May are all trying to improve life for local people while sorting out their own problems and destinies, struggles viewed by Fawad with a wonderful mixture of sympathy, insight and perplexity.

Fawad is a Muslim and it is one of the strengths of this book that it portrays the acceptance of his own religion and a respect for the cultural Christianity of his employers as a fact of everyday life.

Although life is briefly peaceful after the move things don't stand still and the story unfolds with drama and tragedy but enough of a happy ending to leave the reader feeling uplifted and hopeful.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Fawad is an 11 year old boy living in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. Having lost his father, brother and sister, he lives with his mother, Mariya, who works as a servant for three westerners sharing a house. Fawad becomes close to Georgie, May and James, even if their non-Muslim ways (they drink alcohol, one reads pornography and one is a lesbian) sometimes shock him. Nevertheless, Fawad is drawn into their lives and becomes especially close to Georgie, who is having a relationship with a high profile Afghan warlord. The book takes place over the course of a year, and Fawad's experiences reflect many of the realities of living in Afganistan today.

It's a very interesting setting for a novel and I learned a lot about Afghanistan. However I felt that the plot was somewhat aimless. It's an easy book to read, but I never felt particularly caught up in it, until the end when I realised how fond I had got of the characters. I felt that the choice to use a child as narrator meant that we never really got to understand what the adults - particularly Mariya and Georgie - were thinking and going through. It's hard not to compare it to The Kite Runner - while it's equally readable, it lacks the punch of that novel. It's humorous in parts and tragic in others. I'd describe it as perfectly okay, but not a standout for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Caulkett on 7 April 2011
Format: Paperback
I read/listened to this book last Summer and was so moved by this story, that I just wanted to know more about the author. I was intrigued by what type of woman could right such a book. I found that she was a journalist who lived and worked in Afganistan for many years and during the most intensive part of the recent war.

It is a story of relationships on so many levels. The relationships between the Westeners and Afganies; between street children; men and women; mother and son; the ideology of religion and the practicalities of life in a war torn city.

This book discribes the HORRIBLE why war totaly distroys peoples lifes and in parts does not make easy reading/listening, but it is a love story, and hope and love is in it's heart and ending. It was a joy to read such a hopful story.

I have recomended this book to all of my friends, and I can not put a high enough recomendation on it to any one else.

It's just wonderful.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jala sufian on 22 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I have read many books about Afghanistan and wasnt sure that this one would offer a new perspective to the tragic ones i have read so far .. I was wrong. This story manages to be a tragic, sad and despairing story full of hope, joy, laughter and the wonder of the human spirit. It is a short story, told from the persepctive of a poor, Fatherless Afghani boy who lives with his loving but strict Mother (alone now that his father and brother are dead and his sister was kidnapped). They find their lives change dramatically as their mother becomes house keeper to 3 westerners and they move in with them. One is 'Georgia' a beautiful and kind woman who is in love with a wealthy 'drugs barren', one is 'May' a lesbian who rarely has much to smile about and the other is 'James' a journalist who loves to drink and sleep. The lives of these and other characters (including a blind shopkeeper, a cheeky card seller and a love struck security guard) become intertwined in a sweet tale of love and friendship.
This is a heart warming tale and gives a unique viewpoint on Afghanistan and the people who call this place home.
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