A moving tale of the triumph of the human spirit amidst heartbreaking tragedy, told through the eyes of a charming, impish, and wickedly observant Afghan boy
The Taliban have withdrawn from Kabul’s streets, but the long shadows of their regime remain.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—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 big-hearted novel infused with crackling wit, Andrea Busfield’s brilliant debut captures the hope and humanity of the Afghan people and the foreigners who live among them.
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
"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)
"In her debut novel [Busfield] does a bang-up job of channeling an 11-year-old boy named Fawad. Born Under a Million Shadows is set in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Fawad's father and brother have been killed and his sister kidnapped by the Taliban.... Fawad—ever resourceful and not above a little chicanery—makes small change by stealing from the foreigners who have flooded the city. Things might be tough for Fawad, but he's filled with an impish optimism. . . . There's much love in this gentle, buoyant tale -- romantic and otherwise. And to experience it through the eyes of a beguiling, mischievous little boy is sheer joy."—Donna Marchetti, Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"Andrea Busfield’s lyrical novel, Born Under a Million Shadows, chronicles the life of an impish 11-year-old boy in Kabul."—Marie Claire
"Readers who like to explore other cultures and current events through fiction will find here an intriguing picture of contemporary Afghanistan."—Library Journal
"Fawad's observations and concerns about his new experiences living with English-speaking, godless foreigners are told with humor and heartbreak. One of his primary concerns is the poignant love story involving his beloved British landlady and wealthy, yet dangerous Afghan Haji Khan. Busfield tells this story through the eyes of a child, reflecting the optimism and humanity of the resilient people she encountered while she lived in Kabul, a refreshing viewpoint not conveyed in other contemporary novels about Afghanistan."—School Library Journal
"From the first page, this beautifully told tale will capture the reader's heart and imagination.... Powerful and moving."—The Sun (UK)
"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 (UK)