Daily Bookmark: Youthful idealism meets war-torn reality in “A Door in the Earth”

Brooklyn-based journalist and author Amy Waldman spent eight years as a reporter for the New York Times, where she wrote about the aftermath of 9/11 and covered the war in Afghanistan from Kabul. Now Waldman has re-spun that deep breadth of knowledge as convincing source material for her latest novel, “A Door in the Earth,” which follows an Afghan-American woman as she discovers that the Western do-gooders she admires are, as often as not, making matters worse for people on the ground in her country of origin. 


In the novel, young Parveen Shamsa is so inspired by humanitarian Gideon Crane’s bestselling memoir, “Mother Afghanistan,” that she travels to a remote Afghani village to work for Crane’s foundation. She quickly learns that much of his account was fabricated. Soon after, the war in Afghanistan breaks out, and Parveen’s idealistic intentions start to contradict drastically with the needs of the Afghanis she’s supposed to be helping. Her shifting perspective provides a window into the chaos that can be unleashed by well-meaning Westerners intervening in a place they don’t understand. 

Waldman is the author of the 2011 novel “The Submission.” She’ll be hosting a book launch event for “A Door in the Earth” at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene on August 27 at 7:30 p.m. 


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