The Taliban Cricket Club Paperback – 4 Apr 2013
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An engaging read and a real page turner --Red
A wonderful and revealing book --The Sun
Murari's novel exerts a strong emotional grip as we follow the Taliban's brutality with mounting horror. The result is an unusual mix of tension, farce and profound outrage. --Financial Times
Cinematic descriptions of war, and the joy of cricket, score highly. --Observer
This book is funny, moving, harrowing, romantic and readable. --TheBookBag.co.uk
A strange and alluring combination of cricket, the Taliban, and a lively, clever heroine makes this novel unputdownable. --New Books
"… a thrilling climax and atypical story line (one that has roots in real life―the Taliban really did try to put together a cricket team in 2000) make this well worth a read. Fans of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns will be especially pleased." (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Rukhsana is a fiercely independent woman, frustratingly oppressed by the Taliban regime. She has had to give up her job as a journalist, to dress by the laws of the Taliban, and to have her younger brother as a chaperone whenever out in public. Yet she is defiant and tries to resist the laws as much as possible, even risking her life by writing under a pseudonym. The situation becomes even more dangerous when she comes to the attention of General Wahidi, a Talib minister at the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who seeks to take her as his wife. Escape is almost impossible, but hope comes from a cricket tournament organised by the Taliban, where the promised prize is a trip to Pakistan for a week of training. Rukhsana's love of the sport, grown when at university in Delhi, makes her the perfect coach for a team, and she gathers her family around in an attempt to train a winning team and get out of the country.
Murari is excellent at depicting a war-torn Kabul and the oppression of the regime that left citizens paralysed with fear. Despite the setting and subject though, this is not a violent book; while there are some set pieces of violence, these are subtly and sympathetically used, and are not gratuitous. Instead, this is an optimistic and hopeful novel with a gentle humour about it, with a mixture of romance and adventure. It is a tale of enduring love and devotion to family, yet never becomes saccharine. It is an uplifting novel that has a soft feeling of nostalgia that evokes long days playing cricket, and makes a great summer read.
There are, undoubtedly, some shocking moments of violence and almost unthinking brutality, and some insights into the Taliban-led culture (curtains to separate men and women in buses, for example). But against that is set what is a rather uncomplicated story which seems to smooth over political and cultural complexities. A couple of examples, is that our heroine hates to wear a burka, and is unconflicted about leaving her country: other books that I have read have given a far more nuanced picture of women's relationships to the burka, and have given a greater sense of people wanting or being forced to leave Afghanistan, hating what has been done to it, but still loving the country itself.
It can be difficult to write about such a fraught situation while maintaining some kind of sense of humour, something to offer hope and light, so I can understand what the author seems to be trying to do here but, sadly, for me the book ended up feeling a bit trivial and trivialising: Rukhsana's `disguise', the `trick' in the changing rooms, the will-they-won't-they escape add a disconcertingly almost pantomime edge to the whole book which sits jarringly with the very real depictions of life and death.
So this is an enjoyable book and it does offer some real insight into the plight of Afghani families - it just ends up being far lighter and more frothy that I expected or felt comfortable with.
Apart from these undoubted merits, however, I found the plot and characters thin, predictable and unconvincing. It is packed with cliché and, needless to say, Rukhsana our narrator is perfect, with impeccable loyalty, a feisty spirit, unimpeachable integrity, remarkable beauty which she isn't really aware of...tick them off as you go. I strongly suspect that this was written with more than half an eye on potential film rights.
I must also warn anyone reading this because of the title that the writing about cricket is simply dire. None of the beauty, power and grace of the game is evoked anywhere and the poetry of its language was entirely absent - indeed the author simply doesn't know the meaning of some of the basic cricketing terms he uses, and the cricket itself is ludicrously unconvincing.
If it weren't for the decent depiction of the repression I wouldn't have finished this book and I found myself skimming as the predictable plot was played out by rather cardboard characters, so I'm afraid only a lukewarm recommendation.
The story is about Rukshana, a young woman living in Kabul with her family under the Taliban regime where women should be seen 'in the home or in their grave'. We learn about her past, the precarious present and the frightening future. Rukshana has accidentally become the obsession of a Talib Minister, who now his wife has died, is determined to marry her. The advice from everyone who knows her is to run and run away very fast but how do you run away when you have no money and you aren't allowed out without a male escort?
This is an adventure story and a love story and journalism, the stories we are told about the suffering of the people of Kabul come from interviews with Afghanis. I cried quite a lot for them while reading it. I can't say much about the cricket - Tim Murari writes like a fan and I'd love to know what cricket fans think of his writing. I agree with other reviewers, this is a good read and if you are prone to being a bit weepy like me, maybe you should have handkerchief by you, just in case.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unpredictable at times
Enough to keep you hooked - probably nail biting finish
Enjoyed it thoroughly!
A truly inspirational story highlighting the very real issues faced by young women and men and how cricket can unite!Published 2 months ago by S
I was looking for a holiday read and, somewhat in desperation, chose this book.
I was surprised to find it a very engaging story of life and love under very difficult... Read more
A well written, engaging read with humour interspersed with some harrowing detail.
Rukhsana is a brave woman in an impossibly hard world. Read more
Fantastic and traumatic at the same time. Shocking and beautiful I loved this book. Highly recommended but not for the faint hearted. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mrs. J. Ludman
Well written, fast paced, using real and fascinating/horrifying background.Published 9 months ago by Mme Catherine Jacquet
A very good book,sad but still manages to be comical at times.It me realize how lucky we are in our countryPublished 12 months ago by grandma james