The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif
Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman
What we liked about the book
We all agreed that this was a beautifully written book, describing much emotion and hardship. Najafs character comes across as being so positive throughout. He is remarkably resilient and his happy disposition enables him to connect with others. There is both humour and sadness in his story but ultimately he shows how universal the threads of humanity are, while he providing intimate insights into his culture, especially gender and family roles.
We are encouraged that the book is on the VCE reading list and that Najaf has school groups visit his rug shop and also visits schools to talk about his life experiences. We believe it is important that more Australians read and hear about the lived experiences of asylum seekers. Sadly the book illustrates how little has changed and reminds us that the Australian government and people need to change attitudes to and do more for, people fleeing persecution and war.
The Carpet Wars by Christopher Kremmer was recommended as further reading about the region and wars over time.
What we did not like about the book
The non-linear structure of the book made it difficult at times to keep track of the narrative for one of our readers. Writers often use a device of jumping forward and back in time that may be more successful for some readers than others. Each episode is very powerful and allows the reader to feel some sense of hope, even when the situation is tragic.