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A Door in the Earth

Narrated by: Roxanna Hope Radja
Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Cutting for Stone and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a "breathtaking and achingly nuanced" (Kirkus, starred review) new novel from the author of the national best seller The Submission about the journey of a young Afghan-American woman trapped between her ideals and the complicated truth.

"One of the essential books of the post-9/11 era." (George Packer, author of The Unwinding)

Parveen Shams, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown. When she discovers a best-selling book called Mother Afghanistan, a memoir by humanitarian Gideon Crane that has become a bible for American engagement in the country, she is inspired. Galvanized by Crane's experience, Parveen travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation.

When she arrives, however, Crane's maternity clinic, while grandly equipped, is mostly unstaffed. The villagers do not exhibit the gratitude she expected to receive. And Crane's memoir appears to be littered with mistakes, or outright fabrications. As the reasons for Parveen's pilgrimage crumble beneath her, the US military, also drawn by Crane's book, turns up to pave the solde road to the village, bringing the war in their wake. When a fatal ambush occurs, Parveen must decide whether her loyalties lie with the villagers or the soldiers - and she must determine her own relationship to the truth.

Amy Waldman, who reported from Afghanistan for the New York Times after 9/11, has created a taut, propulsive novel about power, perspective, and idealism, brushing aside the dust of America's longest-standing war to reveal the complicated truths beneath. A Door in the Earth is the rarest of books, one that helps us understand living history through poignant characters and unforgettable storytelling.

©2019 Amy Waldman (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A masterful debut...Dazzlingly crafted...Waldman unspools her story with the truth-bound grit of a seasoned journalist and the elegance of a born novelist." (Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly)

"Moving...Eloquent...A coherent, timely, and fascinating examination of a grieving America's relationship with itself." (Chris Cleave, Washington Post)

"Waldman is an ingenious and probing situational novelist...In this deeply well-informed, utterly engrossing, mischievously disarming, and stealthily suspenseful tale of slow and painful realizations, she hits the mark over and over again...Every aspect of this complex and caustic tale of hype and harm is saturated with insight and ruefulness as Parveen wises up and Waldman considers womanhood and choice, literacy and translation, hubris and lies, unintended consequences, and the devastating chaos of war." (Donna Seaman, Booklist, starred review)

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A Great Book for Book Clubs

Well written and edited, this book examines our altruistic need to believe we can be the saviour to anyone but ourselves.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Riveting, provocative

What a fascinating and well-told narrative. I couldn’t stop listening. This novel unpacks a complex tangle of ethical and moral questions about “saving” other people and intervening in other countries. It illuminates American instigation of the war in Afghanistan and by extension other US interventions. The characters to me were realistic and complex, very engaging. The plot kept twisting and turning. I read a ton of books (I run a literary festival), and this was one of the most interesting novels I’ve read for a while. I’m recommending it to everyone.