The End of Manners

FRANCESCA MARCIANO

Heartbroken after the demise of her relationship, Italian photographer Maria Galante has stopped taking chances. But she surprises herself by accepting a risky assignment: travel to Afghanistan to photograph women refusing to enter arranged marriages. In Kabul, Maria gently describes her surroundings as ?brown,? but her companion, Imogen Glass, the journalist writing the article, is more outspoken, calling the city “the place where all good manners have come to an end.” Accompanied by Hanif, a local ?fixer? paid what is to him an enormous sum to act as their guide, Maria concedes that no matter how long one has been in the country, no foreigner is entirely aware of what?s going on. Her task — to capture ?a strong image of a beautiful, suffering woman? — appears impossible in the face of the custom that burqas should only be removed for husbands. After taking the perfect photo, of Hanif?s ailing wife, Maria realizes with horror that she had been ?holding the lens so close to Leyla?s face, I hadn?t even checked to see whether she was breathing.? With the acute and subtle poignancy that ran through her first novel, Rules of the Wild, Francesca Marciano raises questions about global politics and romance, and the role that risk plays in both. Maria doesn?t fall in love with a man but with Afghanistan. Still, in the messy, sweeping manner of all great affairs, her passion catches her off guard and also saves her life.