Book Talk: Soraya: The Other Princess by Saber Azam

Sensual Whispers: A Poetry Collection from a Scorpio Lady by Michelle Anne Noonan

The author depicts a fictionalized, awe-inspiring biography of a woman, a feisty heroine who is more than a pretty face. Saber Azam intricately weaves the story, inspired by the life of Soraya, daughter of Kabir Ludin, a highly-esteemed politician in Afghanistan, and takes the readers into an awareness of how the country is constantly besieged by external forces and domestic extremists that reflect the aftermath of this torn-stricken nation. This narrative's focal point delves into how the male-dominant society in this landlocked multiethnic country perceived women, the plight of whom it deemed irrelevant, showcased their treatment in this thought-provoking novel.

The historical buff, and its newbies' counterpart, will be satiated for a thirst for knowledge as the novel sheds light on the unprecedented controversy this bloody region has had to face since four decades ago. It is sad to note that power-grabbing from both internal and external forces seems endless, gleaning from one decimated dynasty continuously replaced another over the passage of centuries. Further, readers are apprised of the British invasion that led to three Anglo-Afghan wars, ensuing independence of modern-day Afghanistan in 1920 and followed by Soviet intrusion and the Taliban-infested forces in the region. The country is again beset with internal turmoil as the US-led troops withdrew from significantly the scene and the effects it will cause for the Afghan people and within the divisive country as a whole. Unfortunately, every battle always involved and affected women, who experienced being ignored, harassed, abused, molested, mutilated, discarded, manipulated, and murdered—all of these bespeak gender discrimination endangering the lives of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters.

The journey of Soraya unfolds her childhood life amidst the political upheaval. This same attribute coupled with exceptional intelligence binds her way up to empathize with women, which is the core of this spell-binding story. It is noticeable that Soraya always talks with her equally dynamic, ingenious, and kind-hearted father, who keeps her updated on the happenings in the political, social, and economic scenario. Her grasp of issues and discourses involving complex matters affecting her country is impressive, which had left an indelible mark with the people she encounters from the dignitaries in the UK, US, some European countries, and the homefront.

At a glance, this book, with its history-induced biographical perspective, may warrant a serious tone. Still, Saber Azam's style of storytelling—witty, vibrant, fluent—is an enriching experience a reader could have. Saber's vivid description of his beautiful beloved country construct mental images of his land. "Its geography is an ornament of lofty mountains, deep and profound valleys, coarse deserts, and quaint four-season paints. Its springs have inspired poets, writers, and philosophers to describe heaven. Its summers are a combination of tenderness in vales and torrid hell in arid and forgotten corners. Its autumns bestow joy and sense to life. Its winters inflict the unthinkable knock to the spine of empires."

Queens Gawharshad and Soraya, and other women who have shared their knowledge with the society to advance science, literature, arts, and equal rights may all have passed away, but their legacy lives. The author wished women of today ought to embrace the ideals these women believed in, and may they carry on the tasks with utmost confidence, unwavering hope, and courage until they are free from the bondage pressed on them.

Soraya: The Other Princess is the voice, a catalyst for a social change: Women have the right to live as much as men to shape society to make it wholesome, peaceful, productive, and contribute to all aspects of the economy, politics, social despite cultural divergence.

Reviews and What Readers Say

" This book is a reference to understand Afghanistan. Great !"

Emile, Amazon Reader's Review

Sensual Whispers: A Poetry Collection from a Scorpio Lady by Michelle Anne Noonan

Soraya: The Other Princess by Saber Azam

ISBN 978-1648031472

506 Pages

Review by Joanna Oakes

Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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About the Author

A native of Afghanistan, Saber Azam left Kabul at the age of 22 for Switzerland to study at the prestigious "Ecôle Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne" where he obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in the field of advanced nuclear technology.

Following the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979, he turned into an advocate for mobilizing support for the Afghan Resistance, refugees, and internally displaced persons while pursuing his academic endeavors. He presided over the "Comité Afghan d'Aide Humanitaire" in Geneva and engaged in discussions with Western capitals on the plight of Afghan people under the Red Army occupation as well as the post-Soviet scenarios. He also promoted the involvement of Swiss public and private sectors in reconstructing war-torn countries.

In 1994, he joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He served in Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya before becoming the Deputy Special Envoy of this world body for southeast Europe.

In 2001, he moved to the United Nations Department for Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) and assumed senior functions in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo.

In 2006, he returned to UNHCR and served as Representative of the organization in Côte d'Ivoire, Bangladesh, and Rwanda and Regional Representative and Coordinator for Central Asia. His assignments have provided him with a deep knowledge of the World's affairs, particularly Southwest and Central Asia, the Balkans, West and East Africa, the Rohingya situation, and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

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