Synopses & Reviews
A passionate personal journey through two cultures in conflict
Shortly after militant Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, Tamim Ansary of San Francisco sent an e-mail to twenty friends, telling how the threatened U.S. reprisals against Afghanistan looked to him as an Afghan American. The message spread, and in a few days it had reached, and affected, millions of people-Afghans and Americans, soldiers and pacifists, conservative Christians and talk-show hosts; for the message, written in twenty minutes, was one Ansary had been writing all his life.
West of Kabul, East of New York is an urgent communiqué by an American with "an Afghan soul still inside me," who has lived in the very different worlds of Islam and the secular West. The son of an Afghan man and the first American woman to live as an Afghan, Ansary grew up in the intimate world of Afghan family life, one never seen by outsiders. No sooner had he emigrated to San Francisco than he was drawn into the community of Afghan expatriates sustained by the dream of returning to their country -and then drawn back to the Islamic world himself to discover the nascent phenomenon of militant religious fundamentalism.
Tamim Ansary has emerged as one of the most eloquent voices on the conflict between Islam and the West. His book is a deeply personal account of the struggle to reconcile two great civilizations and to find some point in the imagination where they might meet.
"West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story, proves that the e-mail wasn't a fluke. Ansary possesses a rare talent for clearly delineating complicated philosophical and political questions. His prose is subtle and addictive." Village Voice
"While Ansary's political insights can be detached or perhaps purposefully aloof his descriptions of having lived in and identified alternately with the West and the Islamic world are utterly compelling." Publishers Weekly
“A book that steadies our skittering compass...It speaks with a modesty of tone and is all the more resonant for that reason....[It] sees things we cannot make out, and need to.” —The New York Times
“[This] powerful, timely book, written with clarity and eloquence, chronicles [Ansarys] angst and his personal journey through two conflicting cultures....We come to see the humanity behind the country that has come into the international spotlight.” —The Mercury News (San Jose)
“[Ansarys] descriptions of his Afghan childhood are luxe and delicious....The authors profound, complicated homesickness burns across every page.” —Esquire
“[An] emotional and moving memoir, driven by passion and intelligence...It breaks the heart.” —The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
The day after the World Trade Center was destroyed, Tamim Ansary sent an anguished e-mail to twenty friends, discussing the attack from his perspective as an Afghan American. The message reached millions. Born to an Afghan father and American mother, Ansary grew up in the intimate world of Afghan family life and emigrated to San Francisco thinking hed left Afghan culture behind forever. At the height of the Iranian Revolution, however, he took a harrowing journey through the Islamic world, and in the years that followed, he struggled to unite his divided self and to find a place in his imagination where his Afghan and American identities might meet.
About the Author
Tamim Ansary, who has written numerous books for children, is a columnist for Encarta. He lives in San Francisco, California, with his wife and their two children.
Read the exclusive essays by Tamim Ansary: 2009