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The Underground Girls of Kabul
"A unique and compelling chronicle. Book clubs will be riveted." - Booklist
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Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

Created: 06/26/15

Replies: 14

Posted Jun. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

Although Afghanistan and its conflicts have been well-covered, the book offers a different entry point into the lives of people there. Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?


Posted Jul. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 42

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I knew very little other than there's been a war going on for a long time in the area. I certainly was not aware of the bacha posh phenomenon. Nor did I know this phenomenon is no uncommon in other parts of the world. I tried to equate it with the Polynesian way of raising a boy as a woman but I think the differences between the two circumstances are different. It's a long-standing part of Polynesian culture but I don't think it's done to gain higher status for the family.


Posted Jul. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

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RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

Before reading this book, I knew that Afghanistan was a war torn country; that it had been occupied by the Russians and the Americans. After other countries left they were still Afghanistan with little changes in there politics or beliefs. I also knew of their domination over women, but had never heard of this practice of creating a son, so the family could live with a sense of pride or gain some freedoms in their little village.


Posted Jul. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lorettaf

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 25

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

All I knew about Afghanistan, I got from reading "The Kite Runner" and television news. I didn't know about bacha posh, but did know how restrictive the culture is for women, especially under the Taliban. As long as education for girls is not made mandatory as in the West, this culture will never change for the good.


Posted Jul. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

The book was not surprising to me. I have followed the news regarding Afghanistan, and read a good bit about the country, both fiction (The Kite Runner et. al.) and nonfiction. I knew women were poorly treated and repressed by the culture, but was not specifically familiar with the practice of bacha posh.


Posted Jul. 16, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sallyh

Join Date: 09/07/12

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RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I had read Khaled Hosseini's books, which provide quite a lot of background information on the country. But I had never heard of bacha posh.


Posted Jul. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
phyllisrelyea

Join Date: 04/13/12

Posts: 8

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I have previously read "Nine Parts of Desire" by Brooks , "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Nafisi, and "Kabul Beauty School" by Rodriguez so I was not prepared for this account of girls who pass for boys to help family income and survival in the Muslim patriarchal society!! the author interviewed several families to help the reader understand the short and long term effects of this empowering custom.


Posted Jul. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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kellilee

Join Date: 11/18/14

Posts: 48

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I have read The Kite Runner (the scene of the stoning in the football stadium will be with me forever) and I have seen the 2003 movie Osama which is very much in line with The Underground Girls of Kabul. Here is a quick plot summary:

This stunning film, the first to be made in a post-Taliban Afghanistan and inspired by a newspaper account read by director Siddiq Barmak, recounts the efforts of a family of women to survive under an oppressive regime. To eke out a meager living, they dress up their 12-year-old girl, Osama, as a boy so she can work. A talented cast of non-actors -- including Marina Golbahari and Zubaida Sahar -- adds integrity to the heartbreaking story.

Warning: This movie does NOT end on a happy note. This movie, however, came out 9 years ago. How would this story end in 2014 Afghanistan?


Posted Jul. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lorettaf

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 25

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

Thank you, kellilee for suggesting the movie Osama. I had not heard of it, but it sounds like it would be so relevant to our reading and understanding the book.


Posted Jul. 21, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

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RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

As others, a lot of what I knew was derived from reading the kite runner as well as Kabul Beauty School and Nine Parts Desire. I knew nothing about the practice of bacha posh. I knew from current news how poorly women are treated.


Posted Jul. 25, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bigred66

Join Date: 03/14/15

Posts: 18

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I've picked up bits & pieces about Afghanistan from the news but have never heard of bacha posh before reading this book.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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mariannem

Join Date: 05/21/15

Posts: 5

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

Of course most of us in western society have heard of women's rights being suppressed in Afghanistan, but what struck me most in this novel is the question of whether or not we should interfere with their culture. Is it our responsibility to change their ways? What makes us think it is? I can see why foreigners are not looked upon favorably. This book revealed to me that we need to have more respect for different cultures, that we can be there to support these women, but we need to step back and let them handle this in their own time.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lorettaf

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 25

RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I agree totally with mariannem. I don't think we have any right to interfere or try to change their culture. Reforms and change must come from the people themselves, and not be forced upon them. In that way the changes would be lasting, not temporary. These changes will take longer than most of us would like as we hate to see women mistreated, but we are looking at their plight through the lens of the great freedoms we have in the West. We cannot know or understand fully their culture, or the women themselves. The author did a good job of giving us a glimpse into their lives and feelings, and that helps us to understand them better, but we haven't walked a mile in their shoes.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

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RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I agree with the two ladies above, and would like to add that there actually has been progress. A few years ago women couldn't serve as politicians. So, it might be slow, but it'll happen.

Heck, it hasn't been that long since women in our own country were granted the right to vote!


Posted Jul. 29, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 58

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RE: Before reading this book what (if anything) did you know about Afghanistan? What did you find surprising about the country and its history in reading this book?

I had read several books that touched on bacha posh but had no idea it was so widespread. It is very important for girls (and boys) to be educated. Azita knew - because of her education - that there was more she was capable of and could aspire to. When children are not educated, they don't even know what they could do. That is also true in our society when we fail to educate our children - they turn to drugs or crime instead of striving for a career/job that will support them and also support society.


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