We go from last week’s blog entry and Somalia with the book “Infidel” to this week and Afghanistan with the documentary film “Afghan Star” that will be shown at JMRL’s Central Branch this Thursday – August 11 – at 7 pm. The blurb for this movie: “After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, Pop Idol has come to Afghanistan. Millions are watching the TV series ‘Afghan Star’ and voting for their favorite singers by mobile phone. For many this is their first encounter with democracy.”
This is the country that is presented in marvelous books like those that I mentioned in the blog last week: “The Bookseller of Kabul” by Åsneand Seierstad and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. The latter also wrote “The Kite Runner,” a great favorite of mine and a winner of multiple awards: NYT Bestseller, SF Chronicle Best Book of the Year, Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Fiction Pick, American Library Association Notable Book, and American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life Award.
The US is very aware of Afghanistan, because of the war we continue to fight there, but it is difficult to know the people that make up this world. Library patrons don’t ask for travel books to Afghanistan or want to study her languages, Pashto or Dari.
So we read, and now we can watch “Afghan Star.” Major issues for Afghanis are religion, tribalism, and treatment of women. How will these play out in this documentary? Will they be apparent? Will there be other themes? Follow this link to read more about “Afghan Star” from the “New York Times:” A Talent-Show Tonic for a War-Weary Land
~ Reluctant Blogger
There was a scene in “Afghan Star” where 3 women are standing, with their beautiful berkas (chaderi) billowing in the wind which reminded me of James Michener’s 1963 novel, Caravans. One passage has lingered in my mind, evoking a haunting feeling of that country:
“There were no women visible. I had been in the country more than a hundred days and had yet to see a woman….Of course, it isn’t accurate to say that I saw no women. Frequently as the ghoddy plugged along I saw emerging from towering walls, whose gates were always guarded, vague moving shapes enshrouded in cloth from head to toe. They were women, obliged by Afghan custom never to appear in public without a chaderi, the Muslim covering that provides only a tiny rectangle of embroidered lace through which the wearer can see but cannot be seen. We were told by educated Afghan men, most of whom despised the chaderi, that the imposition damaged the health and the eyesight of the women, but it persisted. At the age of thirteen all females were driven into this seclusion, from which they never escaped.
I must admit, however, that these ghostly figures, moving through the city in shrouds that were often beautifully pleated and made of costly fabric, imparted a grave sexuality to life. There was a mysteriousness in meeting them and wondering what kind of human being resided inside the cocoon, and rarely have I been as aware of women, or as fascinated by them, as I was in Afghanistan, where I saw none. “