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A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  3,379 ratings  ·  555 reviews
The surprising, stunning book that took the publishing world by storm: a coming-of-age memoir of unimaginable perils and unexpected joys, steeped in the rhythms of folk tales and poetry, that is as unforgettable as it is rare--a treasure for readers.
Qais Akbar Omar was born in Kabul in a time of relative peace. Until he was 7, he lived with his father, a high school physi
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Knopf Canada
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Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookgroup, favorites
As an American, I find that our understanding of other countries is shaped by the media and conventional wisdom that distorts our view of world events. Only by reading does a clearer image, deeper understanding and the realization of human universal truths emerge. "A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story" by Qais Akbar Omar is one of the most powerful books I've read in years. Definitely my top book for 2013 and one that I will recommend to everyone. Omar's memoir of his family's passage t ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"I have long carried this load of griefs in the cage of my heart. Now I have given them to you. I hope you are strong enough to hold them."

I give this book all the stars that are shining bright in the sky tonight.

I am spellbound. I am stunned. I have no words to describe the grief this book holds. I bought A Fort of Nine Towers because I am a huge Khaled Hosseini fan, and he loved it. I knew I had to buy it, and within 48 hours I finished the book and I am writing this review with a heavy he
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing

"I have long carried this load of griefs in the cage of my heart. Now I have given them to you. I hope you are strong enough to hold them." Qais Akbar Omar

Wow. A load of griefs is an understatement! This tale of life in Afghanistan written by one who lived through it all and triumphed is riveting. I am truly inspired by the positivity and love of life that comes through on every page in spite of the mind boggling hardships this family endured.

I laughed and I cried through this amazing life story
Qais Akbar Omar's family could be considered one of the luckier ones, living through - but largely surviving - the horrors of life in late 20th century Afghanistan. This chronicle is raw, powerful, emotional, detailed and beautifully told.

I've read a LOT of fiction set in Afghanistan over the years, so it has been quite an eye-opening experience for me to read this memoir and understand just how much of that fiction is strongly grounded in the reality of ordinary Afghani people, regardless of et
Mikey B.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of epic proportions. It is an autobiography of a child’s upbringing in Afghanistan. The scope and the encounters are breathtaking. Despite the anguish he, his family, and his country have undergone the author writes with great tenderness.

We begin with the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Due to the chaos of the warring factions in Kabul his family are forced to leave the ancestral home – which becomes taken over by thugs. They try unsuccessfully a few times to return t
Scott Rhee
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's difficult to even imagine what life is like in a country ravaged by constant civil war, government coups, and militant uprising. Certainly, the United States is not perfect. We have our own sources of strife and political upheaval, but we can all pray to our respective deities that the horrors of Afghanistan have not yet found its way to our city streets on the scale that Afghanis face on a daily basis. When a trip to the store for milk means possibly never seeing one's family ever again, c ...more
Nahil Sherzoy
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just finished A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story by Qais Akbar Omar and gave it 5 stars.
This nonfiction, heart wrenching story is a MUST READ for all. I say this because it gives a crystal clear perspective of life in Afghanistan during the civil war and, the aftermath. Mr. Akbar's journey is harrowing yet unforgettable.
This book needs to be read in schools around the world bc I believe it will change people. It will open their eyes to the true history of Afghanistan and the suffe
Mahrose Nawaz
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will leave you speechless. Speechless.
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Whew! This is Qais detailing his life in Afghanistan from about 1992 until just recently. He is 10 at the beginning and his family lives in Kabul in his Grandfather's house/ compound. No further synopsis, just a reaction.

Finally, I have some idea about the real crux of Afghanistan's instability and decades of war. Civil War prime actually, with more than just a couple of opponents is only one set of factors. And not based in just religious differences at all, but also in tribal, economic, cultur
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
"I have long carried this load of griefs in the cage of my heart. Now I have given them to you. I hope you are strong enough to hold them." Qais Akbar Omar

Qasis shares his unforgettable story of a simple loving family and a country in endless turmoil and conflict. His family is torn apart by the destruction war brings as well as its hideous atrocities committed against its own people based on religious and tribal differences.

Afghanistan is a country misunderstood and its culture is
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read a review of this book that said, "if you read only one book this summer, make it this one" . I heeded that advice and I am so glad I did. The author, Quais Akbar Omar, writes of growing up in a country that has been ravaged by war for years. His writing style is simple and beautiful, poetic at times. The tale that he tells of his familiy's survival adventures are amazing, horrifying, inspiring and unforgettable. His father and mother are nothing short of heroic. I always thought of Afghan ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
By Qais Akbar Omar. Grade: B+

Sitting in the comforts of our rooms, we feel that life is so tough. But there is an entire world out which lives on an entirely different plane – a world where people live in limitations, in a seemingly endless scarcity of resources. When such tales of despair come across, it surprises as well as pains the heart making it yearn for the one on the other side. But these tales also bring with them hope – a hope of human perseverance’s victory against all odds, over all
Diane Yannick
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Afghanistan was constantly besieged by civil wars and horrendous Taliban actions during the decade from 1992-2002. Quais describes many of the atrocities he witnessed, yet he holds on to his love for his homeland and his family. Kites, rug weaving, and family love contrast with the brutal savagery of the fighting and Taliban rules. Quais' family is constantly trying to find safe places to live until they can return to what's left of their home. Going to school was often not an option but the fam ...more
Natalie Pavlis
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have not been so moved by a book in a long while. Nine Towers contains within its' pages stories of the best and, sadly, the worst of humanity. His story has given me a new perspective on Afghanistan. For anyone who loves the books of Khalid Hosseini, this book is a must read! But, it is all the more beautiful, heart- wrenching, and hopeful (compared to Hosseini's novels) because it is true.
Jan 21, 2015 added it
Reading Qais Akbar Omar's very personal tale of strength and fortitude is also a lesson in Afghanistan's tumultuous history. He explains, in heartbreaking detail, what it means to live through a civil war. Very glad he's shared his story with the world.
Rianto Dermawan
To compare with Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, reading A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar is like listening to a cover version of a famous music. Instead Qais' story contain no surprises on the spot because it is embedded in the daily news. Which should Qais be able to make the story more drama nuanced. That is the perceived difference between the two Afghans writers
Lisa Ann
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who read Memoirs, Interested in True Life Experience Stories
Recommended to Lisa Ann by: Goodreads First Reads
A Fort of Nine Towers is Qais Akbar Omar's heartbreaking and inspiring true revelations about the turmoil and trauma he, and his family, experienced over the course of 12 or so years of great upheaval in his homeland of Afghanistan. This novel is truly eye opening, life changing, and searing to the heart, but is told with no embellishment, no tools to create unnecessary drama, the stark and honest tone of Qais's story is rending to the heart and spirit. At many points, the reader has to wonder h ...more
** Books 82 - 2018 **

This books to accomplish Tsundoku Books Challenge 2018

3,7 of 5 stars!

Review to be comtinued!

Thankyou Big Bad Wolf 2018
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is hard not to think of "The Kiterunner" when reading this book. What makes this story different is that it is true. Qais Akbar Omar describes his life in Afghanistan from age 10 through age 19. It is an amazing story told beautifully through the eyes of a child and emerging young adult. Beginning with his life in Kabul before the political unrest, we see a loving, prosperous, joyous family. Then he describes the night when everything he has known changes. His family flees their home for surv ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Fort of Nine Towers is the first-person account of Omar's childhood and teen years in war-torn Afghanistan. He grew up during an especially turbulent time in the country's history, witnessing the departure of the occupying Russian troops, the ensuing civil war that inflicted incredible hardship on the population as the mujahedeen sought to fill the vacuum, the subsequent takeover by the Taliban, and finally their ouster by the foreign coalition formed after 9/11.

This is not the best written b
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vine, 2013, ew-pm-bk-grp
A powerful read.

This book certainly packed a punch!
An autobiographical story of a young boy's life in Afghanistan, from the final days of Communism, through civil war and the Mujahideen war lords, to the rise of the Taliban. His is a wealthy, well educated family, who must leave behind their home and wealth to escape the rocket attacks between neighbouring factions of the Mujahideen.

They pile sixteen family members into the car and drive the five miles to a friend's house, known as the Fort of N
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Fort Of Nine Towers is the memoir of Qais Akbar Omar's life between the ages of eleven and adulthood, a period in Afghan history of great turmoil. This book is actually two separate stories: the first a warm and often poetic tale of Qais' life within his large extended family and the second a brutal narration of the savage and senseless happenings when he falls into the power of first, the Mujahedin and their civil wars, and then the Taliban. The entwining of these two threads is what I feel m ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is perfection. It excels on different levels.
Qais' memoir is, first and foremost, a memoir of a man living though one of the biggest, hardest to comprehend conflicts of our age. He gives the reader a poignant and personal view of events that pulls away the clouded view all the political posturing of reporting that modern reporting gives to readers in the Western world. This book gives us that, but in addition, if gives us the story of a family and city as utterly perplexed as Western
Laura Caisley
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found this book full of despair and of hope in a very turbulent time in Afghanistan. Qais Akbar Omar and his family (including numerous aunts,uncles, cousins and grandfather) are forced to endure the many horrors of war, including Qais and his father being tortured in prison. In order to keep their family safe, Qais and his family flee Kabul and live a nomadic life staying with relatives in far other cities in Afghanistan. Qais and his family want to return to their home as soon as they feel i ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has multiple layers of stories. The story of Afghanistan, spiraling into civil war through the Mujahideen and Taliban takeovers. The story of an upper-middle class family of bankers, teachers, carpet merchants falling into destitution, and robbed of most of their possessions. And the story of the author who survives several extortion kidnappings, travels his country while a civil war is in full force, lives in the head of the later blown up Buddha statues, travels with nomads, learns c ...more
MaryJane Rings
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A story that won't be broadcast by the media or written in a history text but tells a wonderful story of the Afghan people, their lifestyles, family loyalty, kindness to others,their spirit and perseverance. They endured more physical,emotional and mental abuse than the average American could even begin to imagine. The physical torture, beatings and whippings alone are unbearable to read about but feeling the horror is something indescribable. Through it all they were able to rise above their to ...more
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-non-fiction
Stunning - I loved Qais's insight into the recent past of his country. Moving, violent, warm, exotic it covers history, religion, art and war among other issues in simple yet often poetic language. One of the best books I've read this year and anyone who has enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's work should find it very appealing. Equally it would be good for anyone with an interest it the real life or ordinary people in this area. ...more
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I cried tears of joy and tears of great sadness. I care about this author as if he is part of my family. I feel differently about Afghans (perhaps, more accurately, I now have an opinion and feelings about Afghans). I know there are pages that I skipped because I felt such pain for the lack of humanity. I will get back and read those middle pages -- I promise. How did he write so matter-of-factly and yet with such depth of emotion? I'm still pondering it all.
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Qais Akbar Omar's memoir is a harrowing perspective into a young boy's quest for survival with his family during the war of the warlords that ensued in the 1990s. This is an informative companion to Khaled's novels- (The KiteRunner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed). Powerful page turner- literally could not put it down and am haunted by Omar's experiences.
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful and poetic memoirs I've ever read. It's hard to understand how such a harrowing story can still be uplifting. Omar tells the story of his family's journey through decades of war, torture, and civil in-fighting while never losing sight of the power of family bonds and the sustaining nature of the arts and philosophical principles. A miraculous book.
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Qais Akbar Omar (first name pronounced "Kice") is the author of A Fort of Nine Towers, which has been published in more than twenty languages, and the co-author of A Night in the Emperor’s Garden, which has been dramatized by BBC Radio. He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Sunday Times, and The Globe and Mail, and he has published short stories in The Southern Review, AGNI, The ...more

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50 likes · 11 comments
“I have long carried this load of griefs in the cage of my heart. Now I have given them to you. I hope you are strong enough to hold them.” 19 likes
“In the time before the fighting, before the rockets, before the warlords and their false promises, before the sudden disappearance of so many people we knew to graves or foreign lands, before the Taliban and their madness, before the smell of death hung daily in the air and the ground was soaked in blood, we lived well.” 6 likes
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