Monday, January 13, 2014

The Honey Thief - Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

Summary:  This enchanting novel of interwoven legends burns with both gentle intelligence and human warmth

This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppressions of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape.
A musician conjures stones to rise in the air and teaches his art to a mute child. Master Poisoner, Ghoroob of Mashad, has so perfected his craft that it is considered an honor to die from his meals. These are stories of magic and wonder in which ordinary people endure astonishing extremes in a world of bloodshed and brotherhood, miracles and catastrophes.

With lyrical wit and profound simplicity, The Honey Thief reveals an Afghanistan of greater richness and humanity than is conveyed in newspaper headlines; an Afghanistan not of failure and despair, but of resilience and fulfillment. (Summary and book cover from goodreads.com.  I was provided a copy of The Honey Thief in exchange for my honest opinion.)

My Review:  For the life of me, I can't tell you what this book was about.  I can't point to one common thread that ties all of these stories together.  I can tell you, however, that this book is stunning.  The beauty of the stories Mazari retells are captivating.  The portrait he paints of the Hazara, of the Afghani landscape, of their food, customs, and traditions is spellbinding.  

As I read, I could easily imagine myself sitting at the feet of a master storyteller, listening to his voice.  Not only is the talent of Mazari obvious in the writing, but the stories he tells are heartwarming, poignant, and timeless.  I love being able to read a book that transports me through time and space, and if a book can ignite a curiosity in me, so much the better.  The Honey Thief definitely accomplished all of that.

One more thing before I close, the last chapter of The Honey Thief is a collection of Afghani recipes which I would absolutely love to attempt.  Even better, the recipes are passed down the way I learned how to cook (Measure just less than the palm of your hand.  You should have enough flour to fill the bowl you eat your porridge in every morning.).  Even better, the instructions were so homey, including things like "While you let it cook, set it aside and go read a book.  Not a book about werewolves or serial killers, but a good book."  Any recipe that instructs me to read is going to get my recommendation!  I had to read some of the instructions to my husband because they were so perfectly homey they had to be shared.

I had my fears heading into this book.  I read The Kite Runner, and while the writing was so absolutely beautiful, the subject matter was so horrific I feel scarred.  I was mistakenly afraid I'd be heading into the same type of book, but that is definitely not the case.  Please, please hunt down this book!
My Rating:  Five stars.

For the Sensitive Reader:  There are a few murders and deaths depicted during the course of the book.

1 comment:

Melissa Mc said...

Just ordered a copy for the library!

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