Forthcoming

March 20; 7:45 am, B Nimri Aziz begins a new radio commentary on events around the globe and in the USA. Listen in at 99.5 fm, or online www.wbai.org where we are livestreamed.

March 8, Women's Day Radio Specials  10-11 am on WJFF Radio, 90.5 fm, and 11:am on WBAI, 99.5 New York: B. Nimri Aziz interviews director Amber Fares about her new film "Speed Sisters" --a profile of 5 Palestinian car racers. Orther segments are from 2009-2010 interviews with professional women in Damascus Syria, Nadia Khost and Nidaa Al-Islam.

 

 

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

 

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

 

 

 

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

 

 

Select Books

And The Mountains Echoed

by Khaled Hosseini
Reviewed by BN Aziz

More than a good Ramadan read, a new book by Khaled Hosseini. From the first page I was smitten.

 This Afghan-born author has done it again. I read and reviewed his first book "The Kite Runner" only several years after its release. It was unarguably a fine, fine piece of writing. I bypassed Hosseini’s second novel and chanced across this one, his latest, during a casual browse in my local library.

Besides being a well-crafted narrative "And the Mountains Echoed" is a fast-moving, disquieting story about … About what: A boy and his stolen sister? Afghanistan from 1949 to today? Loss and recovery? Daughters? Mothers? Family loyalty? East versus West values? Or, how war forever separates families?

It is hard to say which. That Hosseini’s story defies easy characterization may be a sign of his skill as a writer. Because Hosseini has certainly gone beyond any specific ‘Afghan’ experience in this novel. Employing the techniques of mystery writers, he lifts us out of one place and time, and drops us into another where, for a moment, we are uncertain of our location and we temporarily lose the thread of the narrative, only to find ourselves pondering another episode in an emerging enigma.

So "And the Mountains Echoed" is not a cultural narrative. Avoid this book if your purpose is to understand that exotic troubled land and then, at your dinner tables, compassionately lament the fate of Afghan girls.

If I can’t define the theme, I can tell you how it opens and closes. The book begins lyrically, in 1952, in a bucolic setting. A father is telling Abdullah and his sister Pari a fairy tale; it’s a fable of a loving father who challenges a child-stealing monster in order to rescue his youngest son. Although the man saves the village, he cannot reclaim his lost child and, mercifully perhaps, the monster gives the man a potion that prevents him from remembering the boy and his unsuccessful journey to rescue him.

In contrast to its opening, the book ends with a rather banal experience in a California nursing home. There, an aging woman (Pari) finds the brother from whom she was separated by a sad event in Afghanistan 60 earlier. Now in an advanced state of a kind of dementia, brother Abdullah is unable to recognize Pari (who has come in search of him), or indeed to remember anything about his homeland.

But "And the Mountains Echoed" is not a sad story. Not at all. It is filled with engaging characters of dazzling and credible diversity who Hosseini makes us care about-- from Uncle Nabi who negotiated his niece’s sale, to this same girl’s early lovers and then her husband and children in France, to her suicidal poet-step-mother self-exiled in Paris, to capricious foreign NGO staff in contemporary Kabul.

Nabi (uncle to Abdullah and Pari) is a runaway lad from Shadbagh village who finds employment as chauffeur and cook to a Kabul family. Nabi is secretly loved by his employer and remains at the grand house with the man after his flighty wife (the poet) has departed for France with their ‘adopted' child (the lost sister Pari). Nabi becomes pivotal in the narrative as a link for his fractured family. He eventually passes the task to the Kabul residence’s next occupant Dr. Markos to whom, in an early chapter, he recounts the family history in a long letter (extending 90 pages here) which finds its way to Paris and into the hands of the stolen sister of Abdullah.

Markos, a surgeon working for an NGO in 2010 in Kabul, is a caring man. But it is not in a Kabul hospital where we glimpse what underlies Markos’ compassion. Instead author Hosseini has Markos narrating another long chapter where he flashes back to his childhood in Greece, an enduring friendship with a disfigured girl his own age, and his upbringing by his mother, a wise, strong woman.

From Uncle Nabi, Markos assumes the role of envoy, joining separated generations from Shadbagh village with Kabul, then Paris, then California. We meet a classic Afghan warlord, former fighter, now village patron who has in fact stolen (and remade) Shadbagh village; but it is his young son and this boy’s chance friendship with an angry, homeless lad that somehow eclipses the ills of the warlord. We meet Amra Ademovic working in a Kabul hospital who in turn is an entry to stricken children, war veterans and touring foreigners. We also share the strange relationship of two village sisters Parwana and Masooma whose role in the story may simply be to enhance the theme that although people make some hard decisions, some less benevolent than others, no one is really judged as bad and no action is inherently wrong. There is little place for blame or remorse in "And the Mountains Echoed".



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This machine (the banjo) surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.

Pete Seeger, activist/singer/songwriter

Tahrir Diwan

a poem.. a song..
poem "Malfunctioning Flowtron" by Marian Haddad

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Flash
poems
poem Azan
Call to Prayer: reciter, Mor Dior Bamba, Senegal

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Book review
Naguib Mahfouz's
The Journey of Ibn Fattouma
reviewed by BN Aziz.

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