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A door in the earth
2019
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Summary
F rom the author of the national bestseller The Submission comes the journey of a young Afghan-American woman trapped between her ideals and the complicated truth in this "penetrating" ( O, Oprah Magazine ), "stealthily suspenseful," ( Booklist, starred review), "breathtaking and achingly nuanced" ( Kirkus , starred review) novel for readers of Cutting for Stone and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Parveen Shams, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown. When she discovers a bestselling book called Mother Afghanistan , a memoir by humanitarian Gideon Crane that has become a bible for American engagement in the country, she is inspired. Galvanized by Crane's experience, Parveen travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation.
When she arrives, however, Crane's maternity clinic, while grandly equipped, is mostly unstaffed. The villagers do not exhibit the gratitude she expected to receive. And Crane's memoir appears to be littered with mistakes, or outright fabrications. As the reasons for Parveen's pilgrimage crumble beneath her, the U.S. military, also drawn by Crane's book, turns up to pave the solde road to the village, bringing the war in their wake. When a fatal ambush occurs, Parveen must decide whether her loyalties lie with the villagers or the soldiers -- and she must determine her own relationship to the truth.
Amy Waldman, who reported from Afghanistan for the New York Times after 9/11, has created a taut, propulsive novel about power, perspective, and idealism, brushing aside the dust of America's longest-standing war to reveal the complicated truths beneath. A Door in the Earth is the rarest of books, one that helps us understand living history through poignant characters and unforgettable storytelling.
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Booklist Review
Waldman (The Submission, 2011) is an ingenious and probing situational novelist. The catalyst here is a best-selling do-gooder's memoir, Mother Afghanistan, by an American doctor turned aid-evangelist, Gideon Crane. California college senior Parveen, who was born in Afghanistan, has fallen under the spell of Crane's story of how the death of a lovely young woman in childbirth in a remote valley without medical facilities inspired him to build a women's clinic. Seeking an outlet for her cultural anthropology ambitions, Parveen decides to go live with the deceased woman's husband, Waheed, and his family to study the impact of Crane's work. Nothing is as she imagined it. In this deeply well-informed, utterly engrossing, mischievously disarming, and stealthily suspenseful tale of slow and painful realizations, Waldman hits the mark over and over again as Parveen not only plunges into the divide between her privileged life and the severe limitations Waheed's two wives and the other village women contend with, but is also forced to recognize the tragic ironies of Crane's influence, especially on the American military. Every aspect of this complex and caustic tale of hype and harm is saturated with insight and ruefulness as Parveen wises up and Waldman considers womanhood and choice, literacy and translation, hubris and lies, unintended consequences, and the devastating chaos of war.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2019 Booklist
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