Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Interpreter: Five Stars Review

Nov 27, 2011Katherine L. rated it

Human scenes of Afghanistan crafted around the pursuit of a torturer

While The Interpreter portrays an insider’s panorama of the conflicts in Afghanistan, it is also crafted as a story that tunnels into the vendetta between an Afghanistan man and his Taliban torturer. Yet the book is written with the gray zones that make this conflict one of controversy.

Based on true experience, the author tells of his hunt for the Taliban with American soldiers and Afghanistan men. They course many villages, finding out the tenor of people who have been displaced from farms. The Americans have built schools and hospitals yet the Taliban raid and attempt to forcibly convert the villagers. Both pro and anti American responses are depicted but what is so poignant are the individuals and their losses. The worry the Afghanistan men have about their women and how Americans might treat them is an understatement to the plights of these people.

Shabir was learning karate when the Taliban captured him, beat him, and tortured him, sending his family to Russia for refuge. His bravery in joining the American forces as an interpreter leads to compelling scenes of encounter. When he interprets intercepted radio messages, he knows he is a target. Although he eventually vanquishes his tormenter, there is more to this. It reminds me of the end to Doctor Zhivago in that Shabir must leave; he has to be displaced. Because the Taliban know him, his presence only causes strategy that can kill those around him.

This is a moving book, rich in scenes of Afghanistan and the hunts there. The author doesn’t sensationalize because much is preparation. A traditional meal is a blessing. Also his relationships nourish him as the plot surges towards the confrontation with his nemesis. I was rapt to read this to the end.


  1. Congratulations on a great review! This really sounds like a compelling read.

  2. Thanks Jolie, your supportive comment is greatly appreciated.