The Honey Thief

Overview

This enchanting novel of interwoven legends burns with both gentle intelligence and human warmth

This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppressions of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape.
A musician conjures stones to rise in the air and teaches his art to a mute child. Master Poisoner,...

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The Honey Thief

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Overview

This enchanting novel of interwoven legends burns with both gentle intelligence and human warmth

This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppressions of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape.
A musician conjures stones to rise in the air and teaches his art to a mute child. Master Poisoner, Ghoroob of Mashad, has so perfected his craft that it is considered an honor to die from his meals. These are stories of magic and wonder in which ordinary people endure astonishing extremes in a world of bloodshed and brotherhood, miracles and catastrophes.

With lyrical wit and profound simplicity, The Honey Thief reveals an Afghanistan of greater richness and humanity than is conveyed in newspaper headlines; an Afghanistan not of failure and despair, but of resilience and fulfillment.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mazari and Hillman’s second collaboration (after The Rugmaker of Mazar-eSharif) is an homage to the richly folkloric Afghani culture. The collection of linked stories focuses on customs and legends spanning centuries of the Hazara people. “In Afghanistan, memories are not made of air and light and colour; memories are made of iron and stone.” A poor young man, in “The Life of Abdul Khaliq,” is rumored to have slain a king. Karim Zand, of “The Music School,” is a “mad” inhabitant new to the area. When his neighbors discover the otherworldly music he plays on his rubab (a lute-like instrument originally from Central Asia), they gather around his house. He angrily demands to be left alone, but a mute teenager feels a connection to the music and determines to learn the difficult instrument, despite the obstacles. “The Cookbook of the Master Poisoner Ghoroob-e-astab of Mashad” is about a wily poisoner whose masterful concoctions are “almost an honor to die from.” At the urging of the prince’s bodyguards, he agrees to share recipes that might shield royalty. This entertaining tapestry of myths from Mazari and Hillman will shed light on the Hazara people and their backgrounds. Recipes. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary Management, in assoc. with the Mary Cunnane Agency. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Tales from the oral tradition of Afghanistan, a land where "memories are not made of air and light and colour [but]...of iron and stone"; in this collection, the stories vary in tone from the homely to the harrowing. The artistic process behind this collection is uncommon, for Mazari, an immigrant to Melbourne, tells his stories to Australian author Hillman, who reshapes them and then runs them by Mazari again to see whether he has captured the authenticity of his original voice. While the stories are separate, they're concatenated in that characters recur from story to story, so while one might be a major player in one tale, he might be only alluded to in a subsequent narrative. Mazari focuses on one specific area of Afghanistan here: the relatively remote mountainous area of the Hazarajat. There we meet the Hazara, who, according to Mazari, are a "mystery people, but only to others," and indeed, we do locate universal themes within the individual stories he tells. The title story is (no pun intended) sweet, for it concerns the passing of a long tradition of beekeeping and honey-gathering from one generation to another. Among the more haunting tales are "The Life of Abdul Khaliq" and "The Death of Abdul Khaliq." For reasons that become obvious, the title character of these stories becomes known as "the king-killer" for his assassination of Mohammad Nadir Shah, a monarch who's been oppressing the Hazara. "The Snow Leopard" introduces us to Abraham, a London university professor who, in searching out the elusive snow leopard, finds much more than he expected. Mazari and Hillman's collaboration reveals the rich culture of a region largely unknown in the West.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670026487
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • Publication date: 4/18/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 648,164
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Najaf Mazari fled Afghanistan in 2001 for Australia, where he now lives with his wife and daughter and owns a shop in Melbourne selling traditional Afghan rugs. He is the author of the memoir The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Robert Hillman is a Melbourne-based writer whose autobiography, The Boy in the Green Suit, won the Australian National Biography Award in 2005.

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