Larisa-brown
Larisa Brown
Nick-higham-2
Nick Higham

The Gardener of Lashkar Gah: The Afghans who Risked Everything to Fight the Taliban

Larisa Brown and Jamal Barak chaired Nick Higham

Saturday, 23 March 2024

4:00pm

1 hour

Weston Lecture Theatre

£8 - £15

Award-winning defence correspondent Larisa Brown and Afghan interpreter Jamal Barak discuss the story of the Afghans who gave everything to support the US and the British in the country and were left behind.

Brown’s The Gardener of Lashkar Gah is the story of Shaista Gul, who built a garden oasis inside the British military base in Helmand province, and which helped to soothe the troubled minds of soldiers. Other members of his family also worked for the military, including his son, Jamal Barak, as an interpreter.  Brown, defence editor of The Times and campaigner for the interpreters of Afghanistan, describes how all members of the family suffered in the chaotic withdrawal of the allies.

Brown is joined by Barak, who worked as an interpreter for the British Army for eight years and now lives in the UK. He was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the back while working in Helmand province. He now has difficulty walking and is unable to work but has been refused compensation by the British government. He faced a long battle to get his father and his siblings out of Afghanistan and to safety.

Discussions are chaired by journalist Nick Higham, who was the BBC’s first ever media correspondent and is a former presenter of Meet the Author on the BBC news channel.

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The Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society