Tali Girls


Translated from by

Published: December 5, 2023


ISBN: 9781953861665
This item will be released on December 5, 2023.


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Book Description

At a time when global powers debate whether to legitimize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by acknowledging it, and Afghan women, periodically a cause célèbre, have again been forgotten from the world’s consciousness and priorities, Siamak Herawi brings them centerstage in his novel Tali Girls and takes us deep into the heart of his motherland to witness the reality of their lives under the Taliban’s most extreme interpretation of Islam. The result is a sobering and harrowing tale that relates the current ethos of a country under occupation by one power or another for more than half a century.

Tali Girls follows three girls coming of age amidst brutal realities of a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Told in a direct, conversational prose, this chorus of voices offers us a vivid picture of the endless cycle of the suffering of girls and women in the grip of the Taliban authorities, of the imbalance of power and opportunity. Based on true stories, the central figures illuminate the power of love, friendship, and generosity in the face of poverty and oppression. Their experiences and dilemmas have a visceral power and we become deeply attached to Kowsar, Geesu, and Simin. These are testaments of resilience, hope, courage, and visceral fear, of doors of opportunity, opening just a crack, that offer a way out. In Sara Khalili’s vibrant and nuanced translation from the Persian, Tali Girls tears down the curtain and exposes the treacherous realities of what women are up against in modern-day, war-torn Afghanistan.

Praise for Tali Girls

Herawi’s chronicle of the actual lives and fates of Afghan girls and women is one that I have rarely seen so simply yet uncompromisingly portrayed and presented. I believe Tali Girls is a story that needs to be told, read, and remembered. What plagues the silenced girls of Herawi’s novel is prevalent not only throughout Afghanistan but appears in other guises in many societies throughout the world.
Sara Khalili

There are echoes here of Miriam Toews’s Women Talking . . . Herawi’s first novel to be published in the U.S. has been rendered into clear, pointed prose by Sarah Khalili. He uses the pervasive rituals of household and village life to provide color and context and displays compelling empathy when he contrasts older women’s anger and resignation with the girls’ shock and despair upon realizing the physical and emotional imprisonment they face.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Tali Girls is an electrifying book. Swift, devastating, and unforgettable.
Justin Torres

A dark warning for any society now facing the rise of extremist fundamentalism, and a literary feat of sublime compassion, Tali Girls is as painful to read as it is necessary. Siamak Herawi has given full voice to the suffering of Afghanistan’s women under Taliban rule. Oppression of this magnitude is a tragedy not only for a people, but for individuals with crushed hopes and lives—young Kowsar, Simin, Geesu. Know them, Herawi implores. The world must not turn away. The reader of this searing story can not.
Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing and The Secret History of Kindness

Tali Girls is a harrowing novel about the brutal lives of women in a terrorist-controlled state. In the end, Kowsar’s fate remains an open question. This is, perhaps, the kindest possible conclusion to her story.
Eileen Gonzalez, Forward Reviews, starred review