Since 9/11 there has been a cultural and political blossoming among those of the Afghan diaspora, especially in the United States, revealing a vibrant, active, and intellectual Afghan American community. And the success of Khaled Hosseni’s The Kite Runner, the first work of fiction written by an Afghan American to become a bestseller, has created interest in the works of other Afghan American writers. One Story, Thirty Stories (or “Afsanah, Seesaneh,” the Afghan equivalent of “once upon a time”) collects poetry, fiction, essays, and selections from two blogs from thirty-three men and women—poets, fiction writers, journalists, filmmakers and video artists, photographers, community leaders and organizers, and diplomats.
Some are veteran writers, such as Tamim Ansary and Donia Gobar, but others are novices and still learning how to craft their own “story,” their unique Afghan American voice. The fifty pieces in this rich anthology reveal journeys in a new land and culture. They show people trying to come to grips with a life in exile, or they trace the migration maps of parents. They navigate the jagged landscape of the Soviet invasion, the civil war of the 1990s and the rise of the Taliban, and the ongoing American occupation.
Zohra Saed is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Born in Jalalabad, she immigrated with her family to Brooklyn at the age of five. Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Shattering the Stereotypes, Voices of Resistance, and Cheers to Muses.
Sahar Muradi was born in Kabul and raised in New York and Florida. She received her M.P.A. in international development from New York University and her B.A. in literature from Hampshire College. She is cofounder of the Association of Afghan American Writers.
“[A]bsolute significance in the development in Afghan American literature…”
“This anthology chronicles the recent work of the Afghan diaspora in the United States, which has received newfound attention in the wake of 9/11 and the success of writers like Khaled Hosseni. Encompassing poetry, fiction, essays, and blog selections, the fifty pieces presented here create a portrait of human endurance throughout Afghanistan’s troubled recent history. The common themes of migration, discrimination, and memory are filtered through a range of creative visions, expressed in English and Dari, song and narrative. The editors’ annotations, timelines, and bibliographies help shape a coherent vision of an artistic community.”
—The Middle East Journal, Vol. 66, No. 1, Winter 2012.
PRI’s The World: Bruce Wallace reports on an anthology of Afghan-American writing, which collects a raft of poems, fiction, essays, and blog posts from mostly younger writers. They represent the first real blossoming of this literature. Much of the writing addresses the difficulties of adapting to life in the US, as well as the difficulties of going back to Afghanistan. (Audio)
“One Story, Thirty Stories is exquisite documentary, a kaleidoscope of fragmented lives, losses, and attempts at re-making. The editors have assembled a collection that manages to be both literature and history, both heartbreaking and hopeful, both educational and lyrical. From the daughter of a cab driver to the daughter of an imam, from a crack dealer to a standup comic to an ambassador, the writers in this book offer not only poignant testimony but also form a who’s who of Afghans in the United States. An invaluable, accessible resource for anyone who cares about what America is doing in, and to, Afghanistan.”
—Minal Hajratwala, author of Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents
“From a society shredded by violence and a generation caught between Afghanistan and America, Saed and Muradi have sewn together a vibrant patchwork of memory and imagination. At turns raw and affecting, One Story, Thirty Stories is a chronicle of loss and reunion, offering a firsthand look at how communities are fractured and remade, with all the frustration and tenderness that exile evokes.”
—Tara Bahrampour, author of To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America