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Reading: Rod Nordland

David Locke Hall
February 8 at 7:00pm


Rod Nordland
The Lovers: Afghanistan's Romeo and Juliet, the True Story of How They Defied Their Families and Escaped an Honor Killing 
A riveting, real-life equivalent of The Kite Runner—an astonishingly powerful and profoundly moving story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world.

Zakia and Ali were from different tribes, but they grew up on neighboring farms in the hinterlands of Afghanistan. By the time they were young teenagers, Zakia, strikingly beautiful and fiercely opinionated, and Ali, shy and tender, had fallen in love. Defying their families, sectarian differences, cultural conventions, and Afghan civil and Islamic law, they ran away together only to live under constant threat from Zakia’s large and vengeful family, who have vowed to kill her to restore the family’s honor. They are still in hiding.

Despite a decade of American good intentions, women in Afghanistan are still subjected to some of the worst human rights violations in the world. Rod Nordland, then the Kabul bureau chief of the New York Times, had watched these abuses unfold for years when he came upon Zakia and Ali, and has not only chronicled their plight, but has also shepherded them from danger.

This book will do for women’s rights generally what Malala’s story did for women’s education. It is an astonishing story about self-determination and the meaning of love that illustrates, as no policy book could, the limits of Western influence on fundamentalist Islamic culture and, at the same time, the need for change.

“[Nordland’s] skills as a journalist are evident in his rendering of this love blossoming against all odds.” -New York Times Book Review

“A captivating account of forbidden love in one of the world’s most conservative countries. Nordland takes the reader on his personal journey to save a couple from the inevitable doom of secret love in Afghanistan and reveals an unprecedented window into the country’s cultural constraints.” —Lynsey Addario, author of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

“This sensitive and unblinking portrait of love and injustice somehow encompasses Afghanistan’s recent tragedy: hope, suffering, disillusionment, resilience. Rod Nordland has come as close as any Western reporter to the human heart beneath the headlines.” —George Packer, author of The Unwinding and The Assassins' Gate

Rod Nordland now works as a correspondent-at-large for The New York Times, working throughout the Middle East and South Asia, and was the paper’s bureau chief in Kabul, where he continues to work as well. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting in the US, was a finalist for a Pulitzer in international reporting, studied as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and has worked as a foreign correspondent in over 150 countries.
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