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The Lovers: Love and Vengeance in Afghanistan

Sunday 3 April 2016

1 Hour


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Pulitzer Prize-winning The New York Times journalist Rod Nordland tells how he tracked down Afghanistan’s real-life Romeo and Juliet to their mountain hideout and explains how they were prepared to risk everything for love.

Zakia, a Sunni, and Mohammed Ali, a Shia, grew up in the same village and played together as children. They later fell in love but were forbidden to see each other. When Nordland first came across them, Zakia was locked in a shelter. The two of them escaped and fled to the mountains, where they relied on the kindness of strangers for shelter and food. Nordland tracked them down and told their story in a series of articles, which eventually grew into a book. Nordland says the story throws light on the difficulties faced by women in Afghanistan. He also discovered that the young couple’s actions were informed and motivated by the great Persian love stories that preceded them.

Nordland is correspondent-at-large for The New York Times in the Middle East and South Asia and was Kabul bureau chief for three years. He has won many awards including a share of the Pulitzer Prize for reporting in the US.

Programme of American literature and culture.