Kiersten's Reviews > The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland

The Storyteller's Daughter by Saira Shah
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Oct 21, 2008

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This book was very eye-opening. I loved the insights about the Afghani myths and culture. However, by the end of the book, I was really tired about listening to her wax philosophical and whiny about how she couldn't reconcile her eastern heritage with her western upbringing, and about how she couldn't find herself, when there were actual atrocities and horrors unfolding all around her.

At one point, after she had knowingly dishonored her family and her beloved uncle by moving in with her boyfriend, she recounted how a mujahadin who had been protected and supported by her uncle had destroyed his home when he ran out of money and were no longer able to be of assistance. Instead of expressing sadness over what had befallen her uncle and his family, she bemoaned the fact that her idealized vision of the noble mujahadin had been destroyed. I found this a little bit distasteful. Then, at the end of the book, she compared her childhood in Kent, England, to that of three young Afghani girls who had been raped by the Taliban after seeing their mother murdered in front of them. She wondered if they could possibly want to escape, just like she had wanted to do as a teen. My thought was "yeah, they probably do. But not because they're naive girls bored with their upper-class lifestyle. It probably has more to do with the fact that their countrymen are being murdered, their family has been destroyed, and they are starving to death." I know she was there to chronicle the disaster, a very worthy and necessary cause, but she was there for decades, put a lot of people's lives in danger in her attempts to enter Afghanistan and cover the war, and she only made one weak attempt to help anyone. It's a little strong to say that I found her to be self-absorbed, but I'm kind of leaning toward that conclusion.
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Melissa Great review. I felt the same way about the way in which she compared her childhood in Kent to the Afghani girls raped by the Taliban and left to starve. That crossed a bit of a line for me. Otherwise, I accept that it's an identity narrative, not an autobiography that gives insight to a unique historical moment. (I feel it would have been a better book to read if it had been written as the latter, but perhaps it was not the author's interest to do so.)

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