Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

"My name is Fawad and my mother tells me I was born under the shadow of the Taliban."

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 he and his mother, Mariya, must rely on the charity of family to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence. Not that he feels sorry for himself - after all his story is no different from anyone elses.

Fawad is the narrator and his youthful exuberance and love of life amidst the grim realities of Kabul make this a very positive and upbeat reading experience.

Fawad's life changes when Mariya is offered a position as housekeeper to three Westerners - Georgie, an aid worker who is caught up in a love affair with an Afghan warlord, May , the lesbian American and James the drunken British journalist.  He struggles to make sense of a culture so different to his own and his youthfulness often leads to wild misinterpretations of others words and actions ..... his observations and keen perception range from simple wisdom to downright hilarious.
"And after attending my first celebration of Jesus’s birthday I now understand why everybody needs two days off work to recover….As a Muslim I respect the foreigners’ Jesus and I like the fact that they celebrate his birthday even if they have got their facts muddled. However, it was hard to believe that for such a big day in their calendar I never once heard my friends mention Jesus’s name. Although James shouted ‘Christ’ when he slipped on the stairs.”
I learnt a lot about Afghanistan and its culture reading this book but what I liked best was that although the big issues are present in the background it is about ordinary people and their everyday lives.  Wonderful characters enrich a story that has its share of horror and heartache but is filled with humour and the love shared between family and friends.

Loved it! I hope you will too.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Transworld, 2009

I added Born Under a Million Shadows to my TBR in May, 2010 after reading a review by Stephanie at Laughing Stars.

What's In A Name Challenge 4 (book with a number in the title)


  1. Isn't that the cover for that kite book?

  2. It sounds like you enjoyed this one as much as I did. :-) I'm glad


  3. Blodeuedd - no, it might be similar but it's not The Kite Runner.

    Stephanie - I loved it!