Critical responses to A FORT OF NINE TOWERS

A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar (Fiction 2014) has been collecting rave reviews ever since its release in April 2013 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The following is a sampling of the critics’ responses to this wonderful book:

“If you read only one book this summer, make it this one.” Oprah

“Beautifully written, with the pacing and suspense of a novel … his richly detailed account of growing up in Afghanistan under the warlords and then the Taliban is deeply fulfilling, remarkable not least because he lived to tell the tale.” The Washington Post

“Mind-boggling yet matter-of-fact, A Fort of Nine Towers is the memoir of a childhood in ’90s Afghanistan – a riveting story of war as seen through a child’s eyes and summoned from an adult’s memory.” The New York Times Book Review

A Fort of Nine Towers captures a time and a place unknown to most Americans … graphic, certainly, but it’s also sweet and funny and inspiring.” The Boston Globe

“The painful, sometimes funny human complexities of such anecdotes make Omar’s book more than simply an eye-opening account of a terrible period in recent history, though it’s valuable enough as that.” Newsday

“Here at last is a powerful, haunting memoir that does justice to [Afghanistan’s] tough, tenacious and astonishingly good-humoured people. The best thing about it . . . is that it is a book about Afghanistan written by an Afghan.” London Evening Standard

“The book, by a young Afghan, Qais Akbar Omar, is an extraordinary memoir that portrays his coming of age during a time of madness.” The Philadelphia Inquirer

“…exhilarating and unsettling, because this is Omar’s lived experience, and one that is far stranger than fiction, though written in surprisingly refined prose for a writer who taught himself English to become an interpreter for Coalition soldiers.” The Independent, London

“Qais’s narrative cuts through hardened pro- or anti-war biases to record both the pain and pride that remain the hallmark of so many Afghans.” The Daily Beast

“As Omar recounts in his new memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers, life in Afghanistan is full of rich culture, family tradition and storytelling … [it] is Omar’s attempt to heal the rift in understanding between our two cultures.” Bookish

“As lyrical as it is haunting, this mesmerizing, not-to-be-missed debut memoir is also a loving evocation of a misunderstood land and people.” Kirkus Review, published in the Austin American Statesman

“… His prose is deliciously forthright, extravagant, somewhat mischievous, and very Afghan in its sense of long-suffering endurance and also reconciliation.” Publisher’s Weekly

“It’s as if the author, 29 at the time of writing, has closed his eyes to recall the essence of events that are burned into his memory from age 7 to young adulthood. He chooses both chilling and loving details that convey his emotion without cluttered analysis…” The New Mexican, Santa Fe

“Mr. Omar’s new book, A Fort Of Nine Towers, is a poetic, funny and terrifying memoir of life in Kabul between the Soviet Army’s exit and the Taliban’s retreat.” The Economist

Qais Akbar Omar (whose first name is pronounced “Kice”) manages his family’s carpet business in Kabul and writes books. In 2007, he was a visiting scholar at the University of Colorado. He has studied business at Brandeis University and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Boston University. Omar has lectured on Afghan carpets in Afghanistan, Europe, and the United States. He is the coauthor, with Stephen Landrigan, of Shakespeare in Kabul.

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