Honor and Polygamy by Omar Farhad Summary
Heartbreaking and timely novel by Afghan-American author follows one man’s journey from New York to the clutches of the Taliban and into an unintentional polygamist union. “He is picking up the same bags with the same clothes Lisa packed and folded a year ago. He wishes he were like his clothes, untouched by external forces.” Family man Nick Blake is living in New York City and working for the United Nations. Born and raised in the United States with broad knowledge of the Afghan culture, he is living the All-American life with his wife, Lisa, and their children. His life is turned upside down when, while on a diplomatic mission to Afghanistan, Nick is kidnapped and finds himself in the clutches of the Taliban. Omar Farhad’s debut novel Honor and Polygamy follows Nick throughout his eighteen months in Afghanistan and the devastating and unexpected turns his life takes, as he learns the true meanings of home, history and culture. After being held captive for several months, Nick is forced to marry the sixteen-year-old Shaista. Although he cannot forget his beloved wife and children back home, he finds himself falling in love with his second wife and, overwhelmed with guilt, is torn between his old life and his new one. Honor and Polygamy is far from simply a captivating fiction story, but is also a brilliant commentary on the United States’ situation with Afghanistan. Farhad expresses his views on both the political and the cultural sides of Afghanistan. Politically, he is predicting how he feels the war will ultimately end, while culturally, he shows readers not familiar with Afghanistan that the 35-year-old war has created a population, which is uneducated, disloyal, and without identity. The United States and many other nations have continuously disrupted Afghanistan with no clear political objectives, and, in his novel, Farhad explores the consequences of these actions. The story of Nick Blake represents the reality of the Afghan culture and the results and disappointments of the political realities in Afghanistan, and shows readers just how unaware we all are of other cultures. Written by an author who has lived both the American and Afghan ways of life, Honor and Polygamy is a harrowing, haunting and deeply moving tale for our times.