A House Without Windows: A Novel

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9780062449689: A House Without Windows: A Novel
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A vivid, unforgettable story of an unlikely sisterhood—an emotionally powerful and haunting tale of friendship that illuminates the plight of women in a traditional culture—from the author of the bestselling The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and When the Moon Is Low.

For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice.

Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed. As Zeba awaits trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have also led them to these bleak cells: thirty-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an honor killing; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, who ran away from home with her teenage sister but now stays in the prison because it is safe shelter; and nineteen-year-old Mezhgan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for her lover’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, as they have been, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment. Removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.

Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer, whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his motherland have brought him back. With the fate of this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.

A moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women, A House Without Windows is astonishing, frightening, and triumphant.

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A vivid, spellbinding story of murder, survival, sisterhood, and a mother’s love that illuminates the plight of women in a traditional culture from the author of the bestseller The Pearl That Broke Its Shell.

For most of her life Zeba has lived quietly in an Afghan village, a loyal wife and loving mother. But on one horrific day, her family’s world is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Covered in Kamal’s blood and catatonic with shock, Zeba refuses to explain what happened. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, she is sent to Kabul’s Chil Mahtab, a women’s prison.

As Zeba awaits trial, she befriends other women whose own misfortunes have led them to these bleak cells: Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an honor killing; Latifa, a runaway who stays in the jail because it is a safe haven; and Mezhgan, pregnant and unmarried, jailed for zina, or “love crimes.” The women whisper among themselves: Is Zeba really a cold-blooded killer? Has she truly inherited her mother’s powers of jadu—witchcraft—which can bend fate to her will? Can she save herself? Or them?

Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer, whose desire to help his homeland has brought him back. With the fate of this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.

A moving and often surprising look at the lives of modern Afghan women, A House Without Windows is astonishing, unforgettable, and triumphant.

About the Author:

Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, Nadia made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents. She is a pediatrician and lives with her family in the Washington, DC, suburbs. She is the author of three books for adults, as well as the middle grade novels One Half from the East and The Sky at Our Feet. Visit her online at www.nadiahashimi.com.

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