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Shadow City

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Description

TARAN N. KHAN is a journalist and author based in Mumbai. She grew up in Aligarh and was educated... Read More

Product Description

TARAN N. KHAN is a journalist and author based in Mumbai. She grew up in Aligarh and was educated in New Delhi and London. Her works have been widely published in India and internationally, including in Guernica, Al Jazeera, the Caravan and Himal Southasian. Her writing has also received support from the MacDowell
Colony, the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, among others. From 2006 to 2013, Khan spent long periods living and working in Kabul. Shadow City is her first book.

WINNER,STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR

WINNER, TATA LITERATURE LIVE! FIRST BOOK AWARD 2020 - NON-FICTION


'A fabulous piece of writing . . . I recommend it unreservedly' - William Dalrymple

'A brilliant book' - Christina Lamb

When Taran N. Khan first arrived in Kabul in the spring of 2006-five years after the Taliban government was overthrown-she found a city both familiar and unknown. Falling in with poets, archaeologists and film-makers, she begins to explore the city and, over the course of several returns, discovers a Kabul quite different from the one she had expected.
Shadow City is an account of these expeditions, a personal and meditative portrait of a city we know primarily in terms of conflict. With Khan as our guide, we move from the glitter of wedding halls to the imperilled beauty of a Buddhist monastery, slip inside a beauty salon and wander through book markets. But as these walks take us deeper into the city, it becomes clear that to talk of Kabul's various wars in the past tense is a mistake.
Part reportage and part reflection, Shadow City is an elegiac prose map of Kabul's hidden spaces-and the cities that we carry within us.

This book is a refreshing counterpoint to the macho foreign correspondent genre, typically more preoccupied with al-Qaida's generals, the progress and setbacks of the US military campaign and the flourishing opium trade. Khan prefers to be on the ground, wandering into graveyards, bookshops and cinemas. There are challenges, but some of these she has already navigated growing up in the northern Indian city of Aligarh: walking on the streets there as a young woman came with intense male scrutiny, which, she writes, has heightened her awareness of no-go areas and intensified her appreciation of walking as a luxury. It is interesting to read her perspectives on Afghanistan, filtered through the lens of her conservative Indian upbringing.A moving memoir, a sensitive reportage, an exploration of Kabul's literary heritage and a subtle dive into history, the book is an intimate conversation of the author with the city. Taran Khan terms it an 'amnesiac city' that she discovers through long walks.Part reportage and part reflection, Shadow City is an elegiac prose map of Kabuls' hidden spaces - and the cities that we carry within us.In this amnesiac city, Taran finds a way to exhume history and excavate the present. There are cities within the city and walking is one way of discovering them.The book... is a riveting account of the author's several walks through the city over the years, exploring its various facets-its monuments, bazaars, bookshops, graveyards and street cafes-often drawing comparisons between them before and after the Taliban regime.She writes about the city not how people write travelogues, but in the same way people write about life itself - full of analogies, of anecdotes, and of mysticism... it's an atlas of Kabuli experiences....Shadow City is no conventional travel book. For Khan gives us a Kabul of the imagination: it is the city that was, less the city that is, that fascinates her. Her perambulations represent a form of "bipedal archaeology", an exercise in exhuming the past and probing the lost.Powerfully evocative

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