Heartbreaking and timely novel by Afghan-American author follows one man’s journey from New York to the clutches of the Taliban and into an unintentional polygamist union. “He is picking up the same bags with the same clothes Lisa packed and folded a year ago. He wishes he were like his clothes, untouched by external forces.” Family man Nick Blake is living in New York City and working for the United Nations. Born and raised in the United States with broad knowledge of the Afghan culture, he is living the All-American life with his wife, Lisa, and their children. His life is turned upside down when, while on a diplomatic mission to Afghanistan, Nick is kidnapped and finds himself in the clutches of the Taliban. Omar Farhad’s debut novel Honor and Polygamy follows Nick throughout his eighteen months in Afghanistan and the devastating and unexpected turns his life takes, as he learns the true meanings of home, history and culture. After being held captive for several months, Nick is forced to marry the sixteen-year-old Shaista. Although he cannot forget his beloved wife and children back home, he finds himself falling in love with his second wife and, overwhelmed with guilt, is torn between his old life and his new one. Honor and Polygamy is far from simply a captivating fiction story, but is also a brilliant commentary on the United States’ situation with Afghanistan. Farhad expresses his views on both the political and the cultural sides of Afghanistan. Politically, he is predicting how he feels the war will ultimately end, while culturally, he shows readers not familiar with Afghanistan that the 35-year-old war has created a population, which is uneducated, disloyal, and without identity. The United States and many other nations have continuously disrupted Afghanistan with no clear political objectives, and, in his novel, Farhad explores the consequences of these actions. The story of Nick Blake represents the reality of the Afghan culture and the results and disappointments of the political realities in Afghanistan, and shows readers just how unaware we all are of other cultures. Written by an author who has lived both the American and Afghan ways of life, Honor and Polygamy is a harrowing, haunting and deeply moving tale for our times.
Omar Farhad was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He immigrated to the United States in 1987 and currently lives in California. He holds an associate's degree in aviation and a Bachelor of Science in Global Economics, both from US universities.
A riveting dramatic story consisting of a heart-wrenching and much to realistic story. Honor and Polygamy truly captivated me in its engrossing plot. A definite page turner, author Farhad has a compelling voice throughout that remains with the reader long after reading. Read it, but expect some tears and controversy. An incredible point of view in the political field.
His first book and hopefully not the last! Riveting, gripping and definitely thought provoking. A definite MUST READ for anyone at all interested what is happening and how people live, exist? in that part of the world. No doubt there has to be a sequel on the way and I for one can't wait to read it.
In the humble guise of a basic kidnapping drama, Honor and Polygamy by Omar Farhad progresses quickly to a multi-faceted exploration of the ethics, morals and emotional dimensions of the human soul, if tested by unusual circumstances, while doubling as a fascinating glimpse into the lives of everyday people in Afghanistan. Do any of us really understand how far we might be driven and what heart-wrenching decisions we might taken, if un-tethered from the comfortable existence we take for granted. If you are at all interested in Afghanistan, buckle up for an intriguing and emotional journey into its troubled heartland, without leaving the comfort of your armchair.
I found this book truly captivating, riveting and timely. It offers the reader a view into the culture and traditions of the Afghan people not seen on the nightly news. It touches on the ever widening gap between the old traditions and the new generations lack of respect for honor and loyalty. It delves into one man's struggle to maintain his integrity and his fight for survival. Heart wrenching, realistic, and definitely thought provoking. Highly recommend.
I begun reading,so as to review for Omar Farhad, then finished reading satisfied to have read a well written fiction. I wept for the USA and everyone with unconditional love of nations. Mindful of how fiction speaks under or over reality, I cannot cast truth away as merely fiction. Non-functionality of fiction aside, I enjoyed following the adventures of "Goodness" unto a speechless outcome. I pray for a paradigm shift on the USA & the Middle East in sesrch World PEACE.
Wonderful book, Omar has a gift of writing and this is a great fiction book. The author clearly uses his understanding and experience living in various parts of the world to help make the reader indulge into the book. Very captivating and definitely recommended!
Distant Echoes – A review of the novel ‘Honor and Polygamy’
“Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resist” - Plutarch
Author Omar Farhad’s novel, ‘Honor and Polygamy’ narrates the story of Nicholas Blake, a diplomatic officer working with the United Nations in New York City. Having just returned from an overseas tour for U.N, Nick is looking forward to a peaceful domestic life with his wife, Lisa and his two children, Ashley and Fargo when fate deals him the first of many wild cards. He is asked to report back to Afghanistan on a six month mission; landing there and even before he gets to officially feel homesick, fate arrives in his life once again in the form of lean & bearded Taliban men who kidnap him and imprison him in a village on the hills. Months go by quickly before Nick escapes from their clutches, albeit only partially, as he now finds that his only chance at redemption lies in the hands of the villagers. In a bizarre life and death situation, Nick is forced to take a second wife, to try and to survive and hopefully get back to his real family in America. But as fate would have it, Nick can’t help falling in love with his new bride, Shaista and thus begins the struggle to make sense of the world around him while trying to overcome the guilt and confusion in having to choose between his two families.
Honor and Polygamy is a fascinating look at Afghanistan that goes over and beyond what a mere travelogue, a history lesson or even an adventure thriller set in the mountains does. On the face of it, it is an adventure story involving a character called Nick but a deeper introspection will reveal that the author has painfully strived to tell something more through this book, to enlighten and shed more light on the rich and sometimes perplexing culture of a country. Afghans and people who have visited or served in Afghanistan are sure to applaud the level of accuracy and deep insights Omar provides into the country’s social, political and cultural environment.
The opening chapters in ‘Honor and Polygamy’ brilliantly capture the feelings of the lead character Nick as he prepares himself for the arduous journey ahead. Omar has captured Nick’s sense of awe, fear, confusion, guilt and determination very well as he discovers himself on this journey. A love story that springs out of nowhere reiterates the fact that you can never predict the wild aces life will throw at you. The portrayal of desperation and agony Nick has to undergo not once but twice, once trying to get back home and then trying to return back to where he started from is very realistically done. The kind of extraordinary undertakings he goes through is testament to the fact that a man will do just about anything and go to any lengths when his mind is clear about the decision made.
At times ‘Honor and Polygamy’reads like a memoir, partly because of the likeness to a first person narrative and partly also due to the amount of detailed emotions the author has been able to convey through the lead character’s journey; it is a rarity that you don’t usually get to see in other books of similar genesis. Omar Farhad very skilfully pulls you into this claustrophobic situation early on and from then, every step of the journey; the reader becomes a willing accomplice or a witness to Nick’s emotional and physical travails.There is a good mix of political and historical insight into the past, the present and the possible future for Afghanistan that has been presented alongside the core story. And it is something that should bring a little more awareness in people’s minds about a region that they have been hearing about for a long time but don’t really know much about due to the kind of limited and biased reporting we see today from the major news networks.
Omar Farhad takes you on a journey through ‘Honor and Polygamy’ that is bound to leave you with more knowledge and understanding than before. And everything in the book from the terrain to the people are going to leave a lasting impression in your mind. It's one of those rare books that’s difficult to put down once you start reading it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Very good novel to read. I like how the story is revealed, and how each character comes to life. The honor that's displayed here is a manifestation of how one should act if forced into a position like the main character in this novel. My hats off to the author for giving us a behind the scene look at how the people in the middle East views the U.S. involvement in their lands. Thanks Omar for this novel.
This book held my interest from the first page. It was adventure, terror and love wrapped together in a gripping human story. It showed the horrors and realities of war from a perspective most people who have never been involved in war can even imagine. I read it in one sitting. I received this book through goodreads.
The catastrophe of Nato intervention in Afghanistan: Honor and Polygamy is a tale well told by a man who knows the country first hand, making it a gripping novel and a powerful document.
Nick works for the UN and hasn’t long been back in the United States after a difficult mission in Afghanistan. To his despair, his boss turns to him to go back out there. Things go wrong within hours of his setting foot again in Kandahar, and he undergoes an ordeal that will transform him, though less through the suffering he endures as through the joy he encounters in an unexpected place. But that is a forbidden joy, and it comes at a price: will Nick be able to avoid paying it? And just how much will it cost if he can’t?
By showing us the evolving disaster of Western intervention in Afghanistan through the eyes of one man, Omar Farhad makes its impact immediate, makes us share in the unfolding failure. Because he gives that man a compelling and believable story, often rich in detail (for instance, a long journey in fear and discomfort is given just the time it needs to ensure we feel its impact), the documentary effect of the book is heightened by its fictional qualities. That is made all the stronger by the unusual standpoint Farhad adopts: a third-person narrative, but entirely in the present tense. So we watch the action unfold, as though it were in real time – as though we were there.
That cinematic effect is heightened by the rawness of the style. It feels journalistic and undedited, as though spoken live to camera, though perhaps at times it is a little under-edited: some repetitions and some looseness in expression could have been polished out to make for a better flow to the text.
A more serious criticism is that Farhad, focused as he is on the importance of his message, sometimes gives way to the inclination to tell us about it, rather than showing it to us. So we have a few too many passages that directly inform the reader about what is happening in Afghanistan, in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran, or further afield, in Dubai and New York. Sometimes, too, it feels as though he’s warning us about where things are headed rather than where they are now: when he describes Iranian militia in open control of the city of Herat in the west of the country, or Pakistan in control of the south and east, I don’t recognise the country as described by most observers – for now.
However, in showing us just what life is like in that sad country, torn apart by the conflicts of external foes that feel they owe it nothing and can justifiably use it as the plaything of their mutual antipathy, Farhad communicates ideas that are vital for us all to learn. This is particularly true as the story takes us to places and incidents that show how Afghans preserve their standards of honour and the generosity that flows from them.
He sometimes confirms what I already knew, but more often he taught me a great deal I was unaware of. Since he has lived and worked in Afghanistan, he brings to us a direct knowledge few have any chance to obtain directly. For that I can only be grateful, and strongly urge others to pick up this short book and draw on Farhad's insights for themselves.
That he has communicated his message in a novel that is an engaging page-turner, with characters who win our sympathy and interest, in a context that is vibrant and with a story well told culminating in a powerful ending, makes Honor and Polygamy an excellent read and a great way to improve our understanding.
*I received a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you!*
The catchy title caught my interest right away. This was a very short read (124 pages), with a good suspense and a fast paced story. The writing is very simple, no bells and whistles. If you're looking for sophisticated literature, you might want to pass this one. But the style works for this type of story, even though it could be improved a little.
This book is about Nick, an American diplomat, married with kids, who goes to Afghanistan to work. But his trip doesn't go as planned. He gets kidnapped, escapes and asks asylum to a Pashtun man who saves his life. He's then caught up in a sticky situation where he has to marry a sixteen year old girl.
We all heard about polygamy and how women have no rights in the Afghan society. But this book made me discover about a practice of the Pashtun people that I never heard of before called "nanawatai". I was so fascinated by that concept that I went to read more about it on the net.
At first I was sympathetic to Nick's plight. But he lost me when he supposedly fell in love with his sixteen years old bride. "It was love at first sight". Yeah right! And then Nick"(...) is able to see and hear every positive quality in her. She is shy, never speaks unless spoken to, and is very soft spoken". Ok...So what happened to the married man that was attracted to his first wife when he was a political science major, when he "(...) noticed Lisa's intellectual skills and the way she actively took part in class discussions"? Did he suddenly realised he preferred his women quiet and submissive? It wouldn't be unrealistic, but I felt like throwing tomatoes at him for that. And then he kept making stupid decisions. I wanted to shake him up. But I kept reading because I was curious to see how this whole mess would end up.
There could be a sequel to this book, but I'd be satisfied with this end as the final one.
Overall a good book with an interesting plot, but the writing could be improved. I give it 4 stars for the storyline and 3 stars for the execution.
This book has a really enticing plot with surprises along the way. I didn't expect the protagonist, Nick, to make some of the choices he did, and the book had me really dwelling on Nick's situation, the options open to him, and what his choices said about him. That's a good thing, for sure! The book also left me hoping that Farhad might decide to give us another book or a few short stories to tell us more about the lives of Shaysta and Lisa where they don't touch Nick's. What I read in Honor and Polygamy made me very curious about them. An interesting situation and some disturbing moments where there are not always good choices available to the characters and they may end up changed irrevocably...got me thinking!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
A very passionate and insightful book about the US involvement in Afghanistan. The book shows a little bit of the reality of the so called democracy and liberation that the US supposedly gifted the Afghans. A very nice book with the most painful ending. I was shocked but not surprised. This has been the reality of millions of Afghans for over 30 years now. A beautiful first book Omar jaan and hopefully not the last. Wish you all the best
I am the author of Honor and Polygamy A Novel. I want the readers to read my book and give their honest opinion. However, I also want to add, please read pass the first chapter and the more you read, the more the story evolves in the later chapters.
This is my first novel and I need your support. Your opinion matters even if it is a harsh one! I will use it constructively to improve and to grow.
I have had the honor of reviewing and interviewing author Omar Farhad about his novel Honor and Polygamy. Please click the link below to read the full review and interview. I hope you enjoyed the novel as much as I did.
Entertaining educational - a great job never experienced in fist world countries a flowing story line. Great worthy read emotional and an eye opener to many and interesting read Highly recommended read.
This book was skeletal to say the least, like reading a very rough first draft. It felt so impatiently written. I didn't get to know any of the characters and therefore couldn't care about them. It's a shame because the plot itself actually wasn't too bad. I'm completely disappointed.
Nick Blake, working for the United Nations, had just returned to New York five weeks before, after spending six months in Afghanistan. His immediate supervisor and liaison for Afghan affairs, Bob Welch, calls Nick requesting he return to Afghanistan because his co-worker, Patrick, bowed out due to a family emergency. Nick has to leave in two weeks for another six months in Afghanistan. Nick and his wife, Lisa, hate even the thought of it.
Nick made it to Khandahar Air Field, but didn’t make his connecting flight to Kabul because, his friend, Charlie, took him to meet some contacts. Charlie and two others were killed; Nick was captured by the Taliban. Now, no one knows where he is – at least not right away. His captors, especially Molawee Abdul Satar, think Nick would be valuable to the US government. They tape him and place it on the internet; they wait for someone to claim him.
Overtime, Nick has a chance to view his surroundings and make a plan. When he manages to escape, he runs to one of the houses in the distance. He asks for Nanawatai (asylum). He seeks asylum from Gulbaz, who brings Nick into his home. Nick can stay in the guest room, separate from the main house. Unfortunately, Molawee isn’t giving up; Gulbaz gets caught up in the matter and seeks an elder’s advice. Nick needs to become a member of Gulbaz family; marry Gulbaz’ sixteen year old daughter, Shaista.
Time drags on. Nick begins to accept his life with Gulbaz and Shaista. He is finally rescued, but he can’t cope. He begins to prefer his compelled marriage to Shaista as opposed to his family – his marriage of eight years to Lisa and their children. Once home, he plans to return for Shaista.
I almost see a Stockholm syndrome set in. He could no longer communicate with Lisa and the children. I felt such frustration for all parties. It’s not a fairy-tale story. You may read it to the end, but the story will stay with you for a long time after. About half way into the book, the writing took on a very simplistic style for a while. I’m not sure if this was done purposely or what it may have been to convey. This is Omar Farhad’s debut novel. He has lived in Afghanistan as well as in the United States. I have every reason to believe the descriptions are real. I rated Honor and Polygamy at 4 out of 5.
I gave this book 5 stars. Easily. It is a very fast and interesting read. The author is very original and to the point. I relate this book to those movies that put too many unnecessary details and plots into a movie just to fill time. The consumer says "the movie was great, but could have been so much better w/o all the unnecessary fillings.". This book has no unnecessary fillers. It is to the point writing. However, I think that is also the downfall of the book b/c you don't really get to know any of the characters. I think if the author would have spent more time getting to know all of the characters then the impact of the book could have easily competed with Khaled Houssani books!
I would be willing to bet a lot of money that this is just a beginner teaser for this author and he will soon be writing a great and popular novel!
This book is truly life-changing for me. I feel like I only had vague imaginings of the suffering and violence in Afghanistan until reading this book. I'm still in a bit of shock at the ending...although, not really surprised, I guess. I enjoyed the fast pace of the novel and that details were provided in the right places, rather than pages of filler. My one complaint is that I would have liked to know more about Naikee and Shaista's developing relationship as I found it hard to understand his motivation for his actions later in the story because I don't feel like the foundation of this relationship was developed as fully as it could have been. Overall, I think this is an amazing story and I look forward to reading more by this author!
I received a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you for that.
This is an interesting as well as exciting story about the problematic situation Afghanistan is facing right now. You get a look on how Afghans are living under those circumstances and how the life of a man gets turned upside down leaving him torn between two very different cultures.
I wish the book and the title and the publishers blurb were different. Somehow I don't like the word Polygamy in the title; the relationship that this books describes is more like what I would call a war marriage. Somehow the word Polygamy makes the book seem racy which it is not.
Secondly the description put out by the publisher gave away too much of the plot. I thought what reading about happened to Nick might be more suspenseful if I did not know by reading the promotional material what was going to happen.
I have read several books both nonfiction and fiction on Afghanistan. Therefore the book did not present too much of what was new to me. It is important to remember that women don't have really any say what happens to them when it comes to marriage.
I found the book readable but I felt I knew too much of the story.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.