Afghan-American author Nadia Hashimi’s new novel, A House Without Windows, is a vivid story about the unlikely sisterhood found in a women’s prison in Afghanistan. The book tells the story of an Afghan wife and mother, Zeba, who is torn away from her children after being accused of murdering her husband. She’d always been a good spouse, but does her partner’s violence give her a motive? Her family, friends and neighbours are divided on this.
A young human rights lawyer, Yusuf, born in Afghanistan and raised in the US, will try to defend a her. But this proves a near impossible task as Zeba either doesn’t remember what happened, or pretends not to. The odds are stacked against both Yusuf and Zeba, in a country that is deeply patriarchal.
In prison, Nadia meets a group of women, young and old, who’ve been convicted for various crimes, often as ridiculous as having premarital sex, even if this couldn’t be proved. Some will face capital punishment for their crimes; others will spend the rest of their lives away from their loved ones. For some, prison is more than a cage: it’s a refuge, a home where they can be safe.
A House Without Windows explores themes of women’s rights, religion, and friendship in a magical story full of beauty and subtle humour.
Nadia, who is also a women and girls’ advocate, was in South Africa recently as part of her world book tour.
Listen to our interview with her below or download for later:
This interview was first played on PowerFM on 25 September 2016.