A Book Review of Honor and Polygamy by Omar Farhad
Okay, burqas aren’t exactly awesome, but…read on.
As soon as I read the description of “Honor and Polygamy” by Omar Farhad, I knew I wanted to read it—the subject matter was exactly the opposite of what I habitually read, and I’ve been making an effort to branch out. In the past, I would have turned a distasteful frown, like a driver annoyed by all the rubber-neckers ogling a wreck on the interstate, to a story about a man forced into a polygamist union in Afghanistan.
I am so glad I didn’t.
Like many Americans, I knew next to nothing about life in Afghanistan apart from sensational news snippets on the unpopular war. I admit I wasn’t interested in learning more either, the burqa being so offensive to me that it was hard to see past that particular part of the Afghan culture. But, for some reason I just had to know how the author was going to pull it off. How was Farhad going to make me believe that an American man was forced to marry a second wife, out of honor? After reading a couple of pages, I thought I had made a mistake at first. The spare writing style was so different from my favored literature, so masculine.
But, I couldn’t stop—I was hooked! The best part about Farhad’s prose is his use of the present tense to create suspense, right from the beginning. The story starts in New York and since I knew the main character, Nick Blake, was somehow going to end up marrying an Afghan woman against his will, I was so eager to get to the action that I found myself appreciating the straight-forward language used. No flowery, poetic passages steeped in imagery. No long conversations or hefty descriptions of characters. I was supplied with only what was needed to move the story along. Quickly. However, by the middle of the book I found myself with a strong sense of place and I was surprised how connected I felt to the characters. I even…wait for it…began to understand why a woman would want to wear a burqa.
I’m grateful to this author for bringing the fascinating land and culture of Afghanistan into my mind and heart—an intimacy I never would’ve imagined. Omar Farhad’s tale had me hoping against hope for a happy ending, as implausible as that would’ve been. I was willing to make the leap. I had fallen in love with the characters, indeed with the culture itself. Unfortunately, we all know there is no happy ending when it comes to Afghanistan.
At least not yet.