The World Is A Carpet

The World Is A Carpet

Four Seasons in An Afghan Village

Book - 2013
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In the middle of the salt-frosted Afghan desert, in a village so remote that Google can't find it, a woman squats on top of a loom, making flowers bloom in the thousand threads she knots by hand. Here, where opium is cheaper than rice, every day is a fast day. B-52s pass overhead - a sign of America's omnipotence or its vulnerability, the villagers are unsure. They know, though, that the earth is flat - like a carpet.

Anna Badkhen first traveled to this country in 2001, as a war correspondent. She has returned many times since, drawn by a land that geography has made a perpetual battleground, and by a people who sustain an exquisite tradition there. Through the four seasons in which a new carpet is woven by the women and children of Oqa, she immortalizes their way of life much as the carpet does - from the petal half-finished where a hungry infant needed care, to the interruptions in pattern where the women traded sex jokes or filled in for wedding musicians scared away by the Taliban. As Badkhen follows the carpet out into the world beyond, she leaves the reader with an indelible portrait of fates woven by centuries of art, war, and an ancient trade that ultimately binds the invaded to the invader.

Praise for The World is a Carpet

'In an age when writers too often see Afghanistan from behind guarded compound walls, Badkhen places herself alone, for a year, in rural Afghanistan. This perspective - animated by her love of the country, and her hosts - yields a remarkable account of the rhythms, the wit, and the energy of village life.' Rory Stewart, author of The Places in Between

'Nearly a hundred and eighty degrees around the globe, and even farther from our imagining, Anna Badkhen captures with an unerring eye - and just as powerfully, with the haunting cadences of her narrative - the strange, harsh beauty of an unvanquished way of life.' William Langewiesche, author of Sahara Unveiled , American Ground , and The Outlaw Sea

Publisher: New York :, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,, 2013, ©2013.
ISBN: 9781594488320
Branch Call Number: 305. 409581 BAD
Characteristics: x, 271 pages : illustrations, map, portraits


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Sep 20, 2015

Really enjoyed this in-person account from the perspective of a village and most particularly from that of the women. Would have appreciated more information in the book itself of the author's own background.

ChristchurchLib Aug 12, 2013

"In the midst of war and invasion, Turkoman weavers have created gorgeous carpets for centuries (even Marco Polo loved them). In Oqa, Afghanistan, a tiny desert village so remote that it's not on the maps of Google or the regional government, award-winning journalist Anna Badkhen traces the path of one carpet, from beginning (the purchase of yarn) to its evolution (months of intricate weavings that reflect life and village events) to its journey to market. The resulting book provides a compelling portrait of a town where hunger is common, people believe the world is flat, and American fighter planes fly overhead. Like Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this elegantly written look at a group of neighbours in incredibly trying circumstances portrays fascinating people you won't soon forget." August 2013 Armchair Travel newsletter

JCLBrownM Jun 12, 2013

A look at life in a remote village in war-torn Afghanistan, where opium is cheaper than rice and where some of the most beautiful carpets in the world are made.

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