Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Zoya's Story" by Zoya with John Follain and Rita Cristofari

Summary: A true account of Zoya's childhood under Russian and then Taliban rule in Afghanistan and her work with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which seeks equal rights for women.

Musings: After I uniformly dissed Does My Head Look Big in This? at our most recent English department meeting, another member of the department mentioned Zoya's Story, a book which he had heard of and thought might share some similar themes to Does My Head. I was a little hesitant to begin the book (not the least because it has a photo on the cover--always a "no-no" for me), but I thought a true account of such recent events could be interesting.

Zoya certainly has a moving story to tell, and I was most interested in her work with RAWA. Although we've heard much about women's oppression under the Taliban, I think less has been said on the women's active resistance movement. It is amazing how much work is being done from Aghani women who are unwilling to give up on their country and future generations.

Unfortunately, the book doesn't live up to the story it has to tell. Zoya's history is related matter of factly, more in the way a highschooler might write an autobiography than a novel (this happened, then this happened, after this happened, etc.). In that way, the book is much more a summary of her life than literature. The dialogue is stilted and designed more to inform an American audience (for example, conversations on religion and Taliban practices) than create a story or give insight into the characters. The brave men and women Zoya discusses are admirable, but they do not feel like living people.

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