The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan

Jenny Nordberg. Crown, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-95249-3
Alook at the furtive world of girls who pose as boys illuminates the cruelties of Afghanistan’s tradition of male supremacy in this searing exposé. Journalist Nordberg explores the lives of bacha posh—girls who are made over as boys so that their parents can claim the honor of having a son (or, according to folklore, improve their chances of conceiving a real one). Bacha posh experience what few Afghan females ever do: the freedom to go outside without a chaperone, speak their minds, and lead public lives—until adolescence arrives and they are forced back into femininity and sold off in arranged marriages to live in domestic confinement under their husband’s thumb. Nordberg’s vivid profiles of these girls takes in the quiet, harrowing struggles of other women in a society that accords them few rights. Included is a case of a charismatic woman who is a member of parliament and her family’s sole breadwinner—yet still helplessly subject to her husband’s abuse. Nordberg’s subtle, sympathetic reportage makes this one of the most convincing portraits of Afghan culture in print; through a small breach in the wall of gender apartheid, she reveals the harsh ironies of a system that so devalues women that it forces them to become men. Agent: David Halpern, The Robbins Office. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/26/2014
Release date: 09/16/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-7635-9
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-307-95250-9
Open Ebook - 250 pages - 978-0-307-95251-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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