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The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif traces an Afghani refugee's extraordinary journey – from his early life as a shepherd boy in the mountains of Northern Afghanistan, to his forced exile after being captured and tortured by the Taliban, to incarceration in an Australian detention centre ... and finally, to freedom.
Paperback, 262 pages
Published 2008 by Insight Publications
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Clare Smith
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Inspiring and heartfelt account of what causes a man to leave his homeland and family and the following perilous journey. An antidote to the mindless bigotry I hear regularly in the media and from Australians about this issue. I can only be grateful that someone has had the good sense to make this book required reading for the young people of this country. With any luck this type of literature may slowly bring about a change in the way the general public views the part they can play in the pligh ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Had to rad this for school in 2012. I started the book with my own opinions about refugees in Australia. But as I went along, I got to see the terrible devastation in which Najaf was forced to come to Australia by boat. The account was moving and helped me form different opinions of refugees in Australia.
Sam Buttigieg
Jan 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
While the book was well written, I just found it very difficult to finish. This book just simply didn’t peak my interest unfortunately :(
Jane Odgers
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teaching
This is an important book that should be read by all who take our safety and peaceful lives for granted. I appreciated reading a more authentic perspective of the experiences of an asylum seeker. Too often people watch stories on the television news and read the articles in the newspaper and label these groups as queue-jumpers or criminals, attaching unfairly negative connotations to them. This book allows readers to understand the motivations and contexts of the lives asylum seekers lead and th ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This work is an outstanding achievement. The craftmanship of Hillman's writing ensures an economy of narrative without losing the authentic voice of the Afghani author. There is a growing collection of works by or about refugees in Australia. These are important works, and I struggle to see how anyone can read them and fail to be moved. How can our political leaders ignore stories like Mazari's, with so many well-written books demanding attention in the popular non-fiction market? How can succes ...more
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is one of Wills year 12 books. Thought provoking, easy to read and beautifully written. Now all I have to do is convince Will of that
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I very much enjoyed Najaf’s story. It is well written and his character shines through. He is the same age as me but he only received three years of education before being sent out at 12 years old by his family to work, and true to his spirit, because he didn’t like the first job, he found himself a job that he liked better. That of a rugmaker. His love of his craft comes through in every page.
His story follows a childhood and young adulthood in Afghanistan and his relocation to Australia and t
Maha Abed
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though you know he's going to make it through all the hurdles, because you're holding the book in your hands, you're still captured by his experiences. You find yourself cheering him on, wanting him to finally make it to Australia, the sanctuary from all the hardship he lived through in his own country. This is the first book that has made me cry and laugh - definitely pulled on my heart strings. An incredibly poignant account in its simplicity. I'd love to send copies to our pollies in Can ...more
Rosanne Hawke
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south-asian
The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif is a beautiful and wise book. I'm not sure from which author comes the magic. Najaf has an amazing story and Robert Hillman has captured the voice and pathos of that story. The combination of these two men is electric, portraying the hope, courage, the endurance and joy of an Afghan refugee fleeing the Taliban. From author Arnold Zable: told with great intelligence, humour, poetry and integrity.
Jane Milton
Oct 03, 2015 rated it liked it
The recount of an asylum seeker who has lived through the 'Australian experience'. A few pearls were included about his life in Afghanistan, including one pretty horrific scene where he hides from the Taliban in a claustrophobic hole. However, the book was so badly written I found it frustrating to plough through.
Pam Tickner
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Chosen as a book club book - one man's refugee experience. Najaf is a very likeable character, however his simplistic views of the democratic process of the West frustrated me at times. His experience of the Taliban and the systematic massacre of his people was chilling.
Debbie Williams
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Totally changed by mind about the way Australia handles the issue and care of asylum seekers. This should be required reading!
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this great,little book
It is about Najaf’s life growing up in Afghanistan in the 1970’s to now in Australia. This ordinary man was born into I assume was a typical Afghani Muslim family. His childhood and family are depicted with great love and respect, from minding sheep as a 7 year old, to being apprenticed to become a welder at 13, with limited basic schooling. His independence as a growing young man occurs when he, unknown to his family, apprentices himself to a rugmaker,
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
As is probably obvious in the fact I slowly read this book over 2 months, it failed to hold my interest for long. Such a shame because I really admire this man and while his actual story was incredibly interesting to me, this book somehow didn’t quite do it justice. I’m so happy to have this insight into the life of a refugee and feel better informed and more compassionate as a result. I wish I’d been able to focus on the book a bit better because I did really like it and Najaf.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars. This is one man's story but is obviously representative of many. It doesn't delve deeply into the politics and history of Afghanistan but is a messaged conveyed using allegories and and a simple recount style of narration about life for many displaced and threatened people. I'm not sure there is anything new or striking about this book but it is obviously a cathartic process to recollect and come to terms with ones past.
Hazel Katherine
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I know a lot of people raved about this book, but - honestly - the only reason I kept listening was because I love Humphrey Bowers's voice. The story is probably interesting, but I didn't think it was well told. If I'd been reading, rather than listening to it, I'd have given up.
Aphrodite Chamos
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Have to admit that I couldn't quite make it to the end. Found the writing style a little irritating...
William Stewart

A good book of you like this genre. The most enjoyable part is the reunion. It is inspiring to see how grateful he is to live in Australia.
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
‘The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif’ is a truly powerful and heartfelt biographical novel which expresses a strong pro-asylum seeker message. It deeply explores the struggles of a man who made the difficult decision to travel to Australia without his family, in hope that one day he would reunite with his family and start a new life.

While this book is a real eye opener into the struggles of refugees, I found the structure and content throughout to be quite frustrating and dry. I disliked the disjoin
Sammie Khoo
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel is truly inspirational and heartfelt to everyone. Would be enjoyable for students who love history and have a passion for finding the depths of human emotions and struggles. I only knew about this book because I need to study it this year, and I am very pleased with it. It was intriguing to discover the other side of Australia, that people are still lining up to enter this prestigious land. It thought me that every refugee has a story instead of making a generalisation of them, being ...more
Ke Bru
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rhonda Korda
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An appropriate book to finish on Australia Day. The memoir provided a powerful account of life in war-torn northern Afghanistan, Woomera (an Australian detention centre) and as a non-english speaking refugee in Melbourne. The language, although largely translated, was lyrical and a lot can be learned from Mazari's experiences making this an enjoyable read.

While I appreciated the human perspective/voice this adds to the asylum seeker debate in Australia, I think a small section concerning a more
Susan Austin
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Captivating, funny, charming, suspenseful, interesting, tragic ... it has it all. Very well written. The two authors must have worked well together. The way the chapters move back and forth in time between different places and parts of his journey add to the suspense and work to contrast the different worlds he has had to adjust to. If only more people read it, the government would be less able to get away with their even-more-atrocious-than-Howard-era policies on asylum seekers ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Such a wonderful story, I have so much respect for Najaf for all he has been through yet maintains a cheerful and positive mentality. You can't really rate a story that is someone's life. It is an easy read and a lovely tale written by someone who doesn't speak English as a first language. I was very warmed by the happy ending in this book, and hopefully Najaf continues to spread his story to others.
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A heart-warming story of Najaf Mazari and his inspirational journey to flee Afghanistan and save his wife and daughter. The story weaves chapters from the present with incidents from the past. Najaf shows what faith, honesty, and hard work can do. He suffered terribly in the hands of the Taliban and survived. He endured through months of incarceration in Woomera, the refugee centre.
This book is beautifully crafted.
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Told matter-of-factly in the past and near to present time, the experiences that Najaf Mazari endured in achieving his desire to become an Australian is very moving. Afghanistan is a country of contradictions, with a very complex history and this books enlightens the reader about the reasons that many flee their country in search of a better life. The path they tread is a difficult one, but at least in this case, a journey worth making.
Kerri Jones
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this to support my VCE son in his English for next year and I have to say it was a very insightful book. One that everyone should read to get a glimpse into a refugees life, what they go through and how much they sacrifice to do it. I loved his outlook on life, in the most devastating of circumstances it was always positive and hopeful.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Najaf is a very humble, likeable person and I enjoyed reading his story immensely. The chapters took turns in telling his story in Afghanistan and in Australia. I have read other books that have chapters jumping between times and locations and it was difficult to follow, but in this book both stories flowed and it worked.
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A shepherd boy from the mountains of Afghanistan, Najaf became a rugmaker of genius but was forced to flee his homeland under the onslaught of the Taliban. He painstakingly rebuilt his life in Australia and rescued his family from the despair of Pakistan’s refugee camps.

“To make a good man, God has to use all of his skill. Some of the goodness of God himself goes into such a man. And when the man is ready to take his place on the earth, God must feel the pride that I feel when I look at the rug I am weaving, at the strands that bind closely together and knot and make a pattern, and at the beauty of the colours. Such a long day's work to make a good man! And yet, one bullet that takes a second to speed through the air and strike a man will kill him in an instant. How can God forgive such a thing? And yet He can, so it is said, for His heart is great and His forgiveness infinite, if the sinner repents. But I am not God and I cannot forgive the man who killed my brother.” 3 likes
“You do not want to live in a country ruled by people who never have any doubts. To have doubts is human. A horse has no doubts, a grasshopper has no doubts, an ant has no doubts. But a human being stops to think sometimes, and when he thinks, he hears a voice asking quietly, 'Are you certain that you are right? You must be certain before you pull that trigger. You must be certain before you put your knife to that man's throat.'
Would God have given us the power to question if he wanted us to behave like grasshoppers and ants? I am sure God takes pleasure in all the creatures of the world, but I am also sure that his greatest pleasure is a human being who puts his knife away because he is not sure, because a doubt has come into his mind.”
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