I was delighted to win a copy of Freshta in a Twitter competition run by Stork Press an independent publishing house based in London that focusses on new writing from Central and Eastern Europe.
Herra, a Russian-Tadjik woman, met Nazir in Russia where they had both been studying. She fell in love with him and married him, moving to post Taliban Afghanistan to live with his family. The Freshta of the title is Herra's sister in law, who is desperate to leave her abusive husband.
This novel explores the culture Herra married into, offering insights into the way of life for women in modern Afghanistan with the constant restrictions on their freedom- for example all the women of Nazir's family have to hide in a closet whenever anyone visits who isn't family. The characters are vivid and the reader really feels for them
all caught up in their family dilemmas and the cultural
misunderstandings that arise with well meaning, but culturally unaware
foreign aid workers.
Mostly this novel is brilliant, insightful and entertaining, though occasionally it becomes quite farcical, which I found a bit irritating.
This is an ideal book to read soon after The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N Murari which is set in Taliban controlled Afghanistan and which I reviewed here.
Freshta by Petra Prochazkova, translated by Julia Sherwood and published by Stork Press
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