Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman's Journey Through Afghanistan

Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman's Journey Through Afghanistan

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by Fariba Nawa
     
 

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Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa delivers a revealing and deeply personal explorationof Afghanistan and the drug trade which rules the country, from corruptofficials to warlords and child brides and beyond. KhaledHosseini, author of The Kite Runner and AThousand Splendid Suns calls Opium Nation “an insightful andinformative look

Overview

Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa delivers a revealing and deeply personal explorationof Afghanistan and the drug trade which rules the country, from corruptofficials to warlords and child brides and beyond. KhaledHosseini, author of The Kite Runner and AThousand Splendid Suns calls Opium Nation “an insightful andinformative look at the global challenge of Afghan drug trade. Fariba Nawa weaves her personalstory of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engagingnarrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opiumtrafficking…and most revealingly, how the drug trade has damaged the lives ofordinary Afghan people.” Readers of Gayle Lemmon Tzemach’sThe Dressmaker of Khair Khanaand Rory Stewart’s The Places Between will find Nawa’spersonal, piercing, journalistic tale to be an indispensable addition to thecultural criticism covering this dire global crisis.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this powerful and occasionally tragic account, journalist Nawa returns to Afghanistan, which she fled at the age of nine to escape the Soviet occupation. She spends several years traveling the country to interview Afghans involved in the opium trade, “an all-encompassing market that directly affects the daily lives of Afghans in a way that nothing else does.” Tied to Nawa’s journey is a quest to strengthen her Afghan identity and reconcile it with her American self. Although comforted by her ability to “change nationalities, hiding one and bringing forth another,” she doesn’t feel like she belongs fully to either culture. Nawa draws rich, complex portraits of subjects on both sides of the law, people like Farzana and Nanzaneen, a pair of women training to become drug enforcement agents; Mr. Jawan, a kindly former drug smuggler; and Parween, a female poppy farmer whose crops were destroyed by soldiers because she failed to pay off the right people. A chance meeting with Darya, a 12-year-old girl sold into marriage in order to settle her father’s opium debt, propels the book toward its climax: a search for the girl in one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions. Nawa’s work is remarkable for its depth, honesty, and commitment to recording women’s stories, even when it means putting her own safety at risk. She writes with passion about the history of her volatile homeland and with cautious optimism about its future. (Nov.)
Khaled Hosseini
“Insightful and informative. . . . Fariba Nawa weaves her personal story of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engaging narrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opium trafficking . . . [and] how the drug trade has damaged the lives of ordinary Afghan people.”
Firoozeh Dumas
Opium Nation brings much needed depth and complexity to any conversation involving Afghanistan and its future. Fariba Nawa writes with the detailed eye of a journalist, the warmth of a proud Afghan and the nuanced perspective of someone effortlessly straddling the East and the West.”
Barnett R. Rubin
“Journalists, policy makers, and scholars have written on the Afghan drug trade, but no one has shown its human drama and toll like Fariba Nawa. [She] offers a unique view of the human side of this conflict in which we are so deeply engaged.”
Boston Globe
“Nawa deftly sketches the geopolitical nightmare that is today’s Afghanistan, but the book’s real strength is her detailed, sensitive reporting of individual people’s stories.”
Kirkus Reviews

This fusion of memoir and international reportage paints a disturbing picture of present-day Afghanistan as a tribal narco-state.

Journalist Nawa fled the country with her family as a young girl during the Soviet invasion, and only returned in 2000 as an American citizen working for a Pakistani think tank as an editor and journalist. She then spent several years traveling through the country and reporting on its transformations. Nawa is especially curious about the effects of increased opiate production on Afghan women, and her conclusions are grim: "...the Afghan drug trade provided funding for terrorists and for the Taliban... and [was] strengthening corrupt Afghan government officials whom the United States supported." The author portrays a disordered, cruel society in which a proud culture of intricate traditions has been repeatedly battered by historical conflicts--most recently, the disastrous American response to the Taliban and the explosion of narcotics culture. Afghan social structures seem built around the subjugation of women, and shady drug lords routinely demand marriage to debtors' female children as payment for opium debts, a circumstance equated with virtual slavery. Nawa met one such girl, a spirited and angry 12-year-old named Darya. The author traveled throughout the country in an attempt to understand the surreal circumstances contributing to Darya's plight, talking to rural farmers, anti-narcotics agents and dealers. Essentially, despite brutal risks, the rural poor are drawn to the opium industry due to tribal pressures and for want of better options. Nawa ably captures the tragic complexity of Afghan society and the sheer difficulty of life there. Although the dialogue sometimes feels reconstructed or artificial, her assured narrative clearly stems from in-depth reporting in a risk-laden environment.

Despite Nawa's forceful optimism, the author delivers a troubling indictment of the drug and anti-terror wars visited upon Afghanistan, and of certain reactionary aspects of Afghan culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062100610
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/08/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
691,471
File size:
11 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

Khaled Hosseini
“Insightful and informative. . . . Fariba Nawa weaves her personal story of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engaging narrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opium trafficking . . . [and] how the drug trade has damaged the lives of ordinary Afghan people.”
Firoozeh Dumas
Opium Nation brings much needed depth and complexity to any conversation involving Afghanistan and its future. Fariba Nawa writes with the detailed eye of a journalist, the warmth of a proud Afghan and the nuanced perspective of someone effortlessly straddling the East and the West.”
Barnett R. Rubin
“Journalists, policy makers, and scholars have written on the Afghan drug trade, but no one has shown its human drama and toll like Fariba Nawa. [She] offers a unique view of the human side of this conflict in which we are so deeply engaged.”

Meet the Author

Fariba Nawa has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, The Sunday Times Magazine (London), Newsday, and the Village Voice. She has been a guest on CBS’s 48 Hours as well as numerous other television and radio shows on NPR, the BBC, MTV, and NBC. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two daughters.

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