Book: "Love and War in Afghanistan," by Alex Klaits and Gulchin Gulmamadova-Klaits (Seven Stories Press, $26.95)
Target audience: People who wonder what the world looks like from inside a burqa.
Some of the issues here wouldn't be out of place in a Carolyn Hax column: domineering in-laws, poor marital communications, infidelity. But add these complications: The bride was betrothed at age 12 and barely had a girlhood before starting motherhood; she and her husband live with his other two wives; the husband is repeatedly beaten by soldiers of the government du jour (communist, mujahedin, Taliban). A missile destroys the house, killing or dismembering several children; a daughter sets herself on fire when she is forbidden to attend school; all of the men in the village are rounded up and shot.
One or more of these significant impediments to true love mar each of the 12 stories that the authors collected in northeastern Afghanistan from people of various ethnicities and political persuasions. According to the authors (he's an American, she's a Tajik), the tellers of these horrific stories of massacre, persecution and misogyny did not consider them exceptional. That love can exist at all amid such brutality is a testament to its power.
-- Jerry V. Haines