Sometimes an exceptional book comes along and you wonder if your review will do it justice. Such a book is Nadia Hashimi’s A House Without Windows.
We asked if any of the characters are real, or based on the experiences of people? Here is Nadia’s reply:

“The characters are all fictional but their scenarios are frighteningly real. The book was inspired by the plight faced by so many women languishing in Afghan prisons for crimes of immorality or zina, sex outside marriage. Zina can include anything from adultery to rape, a word that has no equivalent in Dari. What could be more criminal than imprisoning a woman who has been raped? Running away from home is not a crime according to the Afghan penal code but that doesn’t stop law enforcement from arresting women for escaping an abusive home or eloping with a beloved. I wish I could say this is some kind of dystopian world I’ve created out of the darkest corners of my mind but that’s sadly not the case”. – Nadia Hashimi
Traditions die hard, even in today’s Afghanistan, and it is where Afghan-born young lawyer Yusuf, who had been raised in America, comes to try and ‘make a difference’. The realities of his first ‘zina’ case are complex. Was Zeba guilty or not?

lit-lines-the-house-without-windows-ed169-oct16Beautifully written, Nadia feeds the reader with evidence, one moment believing Zeba is guilty, the next in her innocence – until the very end.
Though Nadia, herself from Afghan parents and raised in America, writes of the dark side of ‘zina’, she also portrays the strength of women who live in a dominant male society. She brings in humour and compassion, mystical beliefs, love and loyalty.
Strangely, though one cannot but feel distraught about the lives of the women she portrays, it is not a sad book – rather a tribute to the power of love.

Nadia Hashimi was recently in South Africa launching A House Without Windows.
It is available from Jonathan Ball Publishers, ISBN 978-0-06-244968-9



Literary Lines
By Lesley Thomson.
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