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Qais Akbar Omar is the author of the internationally acclaimed memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers, which has been translated into fifteen languages up to date.
In A Fort of Nine Towers, which has been described by the New York Times as “a riveting story of war as seen through a child’s eyes,” Qais chronicles his family’s remarkable survival against unbelievable odds through a brutal civil war and Taliban rule. He shares their long journey through terror, loss, heartbreak and sudden moments of joy. One British writer described A Fort of Nine Towers as “a powerful reminder of the extraordinary tenacity of a culture that foreigners have repeatedly and fatally misjudged.”
Qais has been a visiting scholar at the University of Colorado researching eco-sensitive methods of carpet production. He has also studied business at Brandeis University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Boston University. Qais was awarded a 2014 – 2015 Scholars at Risk Fellowship at Harvard University. The manager of his family’s carpet business in Kabul, Qais has lectured on Afghan carpets in Afghanistan, Europe, and the United States.
For the 2012 anthology, That Mad Game: Growing up in a War Zone, Qais contributed the lead essay, A Talib In Love. With Stephen Landrigan, he has co-authored the book Shakespeare in Kabul, which was published in 2012. He has written Op-Eds for The New York Times.
One reviewer described Qais as “a weaver not only of tales but also of fine rugs, and like all good tales he mixes enchantment with terror.” Writing books, he has discovered much in common with making a carpet. “I am a carpet weaver,” he writes in the Prologue of A Fort of Nine Towers. “I understand how, slowly, one knot follows another until a pattern appears.” And so it is with words, he says.