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A Door in the Earth  By  cover art

A Door in the Earth

By: Amy Waldman
Narrated by: Roxanna Hope Radja
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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Submission: A young Afghan American woman is trapped between her ideals and the complicated truth in this "penetrating" (O, Oprah Magazine), "stealthily suspenseful" (Booklist, starred review), "breathtaking and achingly nuanced" (Kirkus, starred review) novel.  

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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What listeners say about A Door in the Earth

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  • Overall
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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 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • 02-08-20

Both Sides Now

What I liked about A Door in the Earth is how good Amy Waldman is at showing both sides of all of the issues, of which there are many, in this book. We all know, I’m sure, that the whole situation in Afghanistan is complex. Waldman shows us how and why this is true through her story of a young college student who travels to a remote Afghan village and lives with a family there. Military intervention, sexual harassment and gender roles, medical issues for women, and more are part of her story and are presented in a way that makes the reader see both sides of each conflict. Accidental deaths by the military, while tragic, are rendered almost understandable. We can almost sympathize with the old man who begins to sexually molest Parveen, the main character. In fact Waldman shows both sides in these and other moral and ethical conundrums and also comes up with a story that is thoroughly compelling and even gripping. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book, how much I learned, and how much I wanted to keep reading it!

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Frustrating first half

I found the first half of the book maddening. The protagonist’s delayed recognition of her misplaced faith was absurdly slow and I thought of bailing. The second half kept my interest and overall it was worth sticking with it.
Where was the editor?

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not a quick read

For me this was a delving into the many complex issues of war in a land completely culturally removed from that which the main figure, Parveen, comes from, even though she has roots in Afghanistan. Questions include healthcare, especially for women; how to provide aid to a people not really ready for such interventions;
How to deal with lies and cover ups;
and many more problems. Amongst all of this a naive woman with no working experience, drops into provide help. She grows in life as she befriends women of the village and her host. Worth the effort to face the hard truths of occupation in war.

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An engrossing and informative read

This book explores what it means to 'help' a developing country - especially one where we have troops stationed - from the angles of all concerned. The book is poignantly told by a young, idealistic Afghan-American woman returning to the land of her heritage, living in a small village which is just outside the American war. She encounters a culture she struggles to understand, the impact of well intended aid, and the consequences of war.

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THE INTEREST GROUPS IN THE WAR IN Afghanistan

Este libro esta basado en el libro Mother Afghanistan”, a memoir by Dr. Gideon Crane, Parveen Shamsa, a naive Afghan-. American woman. Parveen es una persona ingenua, que cree todo lo que Crane dice en el libro, pero en la vida en Alghanistan es compleja, la cultura de su gente es dificil, las mujeres las casas jovenes, como todas las mujeres musulmanas son controladas por sus esposos. Las condiciones de vida de las personas en las comunidades es dificil.
La guerra en Alghanistan no ayuda tampoco, ya que ayuda a unos pero destruye a otros.
El libro es interesante y demustra los grupos de interest monetario en esta guerra, la corruption de los americanos y de la gente de afghanistan. Mucho dinero y obras que se ofrecen, se hacen solo por gastar pero ni se cuidan como los hospitales ni se protegen. Asi vemos como nuestros dineros de impuestos estan gastados en guerras sin fin y sin proposito.
Espero que President Trump saque a nuestra gente de este tipo de guerra.