Born Under a Million Shadows A Novel

Andrea Busfield

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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The Taliban have withdrawn from Kabul’s streets, but the long shadows of their regime remain. In his short life, eleven-year-old Fawad has known more grief than most: his father and brother have been killed, his sister has been abducted, and Fawad and his mother, Mariya, must rely on the charity of parsimonious relatives to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence.  Ever the optimist, Fawad hopes for a better life, and his dream is realized when Mariya finds a position as a housekeeper for a charismatic Western woman, Georgie, and her two foreign friends. The world of aid workers and journalists is a new one for Fawad, and living with the trio offers endless curiosities for the wickedly observant boy—including Georgie’s destructive relationship with the powerful Afghan warlord Haji Khan, whose exploits are legendary. Fawad grows resentful and worried, until he comes to learn that love can move a man to act in surprisingly good ways. But life, especially in Kabul, is never without peril, and the next calamity Fawad must face is so devastating that it threatens to destroy the one thing he thought he could never lose: his love for his country. A novel infused with crackling wit, Andrea Busfield’s captures the hope and humanity of the Afghan people and the foreigners who live among them.


Praise for Born Under a Million Shadows

"From the first page, this beautifully told tale will capture the reader's heart and imagination . . . Powerful and moving."—The Sun (U.K.)

"Beautifully written, touching and laced throughout with humor . . . A stunningly assured debut novel from a writer who looks set to be a big star."—The News of the World (U.K.)

"In her indelible first novel, Busfield, a British journalist who has lived in Afghanistan, describes post- Taliban Kabul from the viewpoint of precocious, 11-year-old Fawad. . . . Poetic, bawdy, hilarious, and achingly wise, Busfield’s debut is a love story many times over: between a man and a woman, the author and Afghanistan, and an irrepressible boy and the wild world at large."—Gillian Engberg, Booklist (starred review)

"Former journalist Busfield first traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 to cover the fall of the Taliban. Her first novel presents the aftermath of that event through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy . . . Readers who like to explore other cultures and current events through fiction will find here an intriguing picture of contemporary Afghanistan. Extras for book clubs are appended."—Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


My name is Fawad, and my mother tells me I was born under the shadow of the Taliban. Because she said no more, I imagined her stepping out of the sunshine and into the dark, crouching in a corner to protect the stomach that was hiding me, while a man with a stick watched over us, ready to beat me into the world.

But then I grew up, and I realized I wasn’t the only one born under this shadow. There was my cousin Jahid, for one, and the girl Jamilla—we all worked the foreigners on Chicken Street together—and there was also my best friend, Spandi. Before I knew

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  • Andrea Busfield

  • Andrea Busfield is a British journalist who first traveled to Afghanistan to cover the fall of the Taliban in 2001 as a reporter for the News of the World. She is now a full-time writer living in Bad Ischl, Austria. Born Under a Million Shadows is her first book.

  • Andrea Busfield Jerome Starkey
    Andrea Busfield




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