Before I start with the review of this book, let me introduce the author of the book. Nemat Sadat, the first Afghan national to come out as gay, is a prominent activist and journalist who is based in the USA. He has also campaigned for LGBTQIA rights in Muslim communities worldwide. Apart from working in very well-known international platforms, he has also earned six university degrees, which includes graduate degrees from institutes like Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford. The Carpet Weaver is his first novel.
The story of the book is based on Afghanistan in the year 1977 and revolves around the life of the main protagonist, Kanishka Nurzada. Kanishka, the son of a carpet weaver, also has a passion for the craftsmanship that goes into carpet making. At the age of sixteen, he falls in love with his friend Maihan, and shares his first kiss. Just like the beautiful patterns in the carpets that are sold in his father’s shop, he weaves dreams of a beautiful future with his first love. However, he has to be very careful and keep his love affair a secret in a society where gay men face persecution and are addressed as “kuni” (a derogatory term for gay men). As he fumbles to deal with everything that has been happening in his life, the already complicated situation gets worsened by the start of political unrest in Afghanistan.
“The Kite Runner meets Brokeback Mountain in a powerful tale of love and redemption.”- a sentence written on the back cover of the book, accurately describes the journey witnessed by the reader as they flip through the pages of this revolutionary tale. The thing that I loved the most about this book was the beautiful depiction of the raw emotions of the characters in it. As the story progresses, the characters also develop beautifully with the changing circumstances. From a teenager smitten by love, Kanishka develops into a brave young man who is in the charge of his loved ones and tries to take control of his destiny when he is tried by adverse circumstances. It’s a story of how love and hope keeps a person going in a situation of despair. Keeping aside the horrors of living as a gay man in a conservative society, the author doesn’t fail to do justice to the rich Afghan culture and traditions while illustrating them in the story. This book takes you through a beautiful journey of love, loss, and hope, where it makes you fall in love for the first time all over again, makes you shed tears as the cruelty of life hits you hard, and teaches you to never stop hoping for a beautiful future. After all, the hope for a better future is all that keeps us going, right?
Personal rating: 5/5 (if you haven’t guessed it already).