October had a decidedly international flair here at Virago, with fascinating and hugely inspirational tales from places as diverse as Pakistan, China and Kabul appearing in both our Fiction and Non-Fiction offerings. To this end, our October Highlights shine a light on the paperback editions of Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, the remarkable true story of an Afghani exile who risked it all to return to Afghanistan and help those displaced by Taliban rule and the fallout of 9/11 and Under the Hawthorn Tree, Ai Mi’s internationally bestselling love story set against the stark backdrop of the Cultural Revolution.
Read on for more information about these titles, including a snippet from each.
Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse
'Terrific . . . the moving story of a remarkable woman'
Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
'An inspirational tale'
Suraya Sadeed grew up in a peaceful Afghanistan. Following the Soviet invasion in 1979, she left for America with her family, building a new life. But after a sudden tragedy, Suraya returned to Afghanistan for a visit that changed everything.
Shocked by the suffering and destruction wreaked on her homeland, Suraya was determined to help. Smuggling herself across borders in various disguises, braving warlords and drug-runners, she set up an underground girls' schools in Kabul in order to bring hope and aid to thousands of Afghans. Once back in America she founded Help the Afghan Children, a charity that over 17 years has raised millions to set up schools and clinics in Afghanistan and to help the displaced people of the region.
The true story of an extraordinarily courageous Afghan woman, Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse is essential reading for anyone wanting to find out more about the situation in Afghanistan and the efforts being made to improve it.
Under the Hawthorn Tree
Jingqiu, an innocent young woman from a politically questionable family in the city, is selected as one of a small group of students to be sent to the countryside to work on a project that will further the Cultural Revolution. Clever, curious and eager, she tries to fit in with her hosts and the rural way of life, and it isn't appropriate for her to fall in love. But she does, with the son of a mighty army general. This beautiful, simple story of love against the odds will break your heart.
Originally appearing on a Chinese website in 2007, Under the Hawthorn Tree went on to sell over one million copies in China and has been made into a film by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou. Touching and inspiring, it has been embraced across generations and cultures worldwide.
Ai Mi is a pseudonym. She lives in the United States, after having grown up in China.
Under the Hawthorn Tree is now available in paperback.
Read a snippet from Under the Hawthorn Tree.
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