The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl that Broke its Shell

Nadia Hashimi

It's tough being an Afghan girl - one solution is to become a boy. Rahima becomes Rahim - a bacha posh, who is temporarily allowed to act as the son of the family with all the freedom that implies. Parallel to her story is that of her great-great-grandmother, a guard in the king's harem. The violence, abuse and misogyny are hard to take, and tragically, little seems to have changed in the last hundred years.

Extract

We begged and pleaded with Padar-jan to let us return to school. One of Parwin's teachers, a childhood friend of Madar-jan, even showed up at the house and tried to reason with our parents. Padar-jan had relented in the past but this time was different. He wanted us to go to school but struggled with how to make that happen safely. How would it look for his daughters to be chased by local boys for all to see? Awful.
'If I had a son this would not be happening! Goddamn it! Why do we have a house full of girls! Not one, not two - but five of them!' he would yell. Madar-jan would busy herself with housework, feeling the weight of disappointment on her shoulders.

Parallels
  • Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep by Siba Shakib
  • The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S Tepper
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Books with similar mood

The Secret Hunters

Ranulph Fiennes

A History of Loneliness

John Boyne

The Surrendered

Chang-Rae Lee

Collaborator

Murray Davies

Patsy

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Out of the Rabbit Hutch

Nanette L Avery

The Emperor of Lies

Steve Sem-Sandberg

Whatever You Love

Louise Doughty

American Rust

Philipp Meyer

Mercy Among the Children

David Adams Richards

Freedom's Child

Jax Miller

The Burden of the Desert

Justin Huggler

Purge

Sofi Oksanen

Sea of Poppies

Amitav Ghosh

Hellfire

Mia Gallagher

Cradle Song

Robert Edric

Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Adichie

Rainbow Milk

Paul Mendez

Go, Went, Gone

Jenny Erpenbeck

Jakob's Colours

Lindsay Hawdon

Easy Money

Jens Lapidus

The Treatment

Mo Hayder

Massage

Henry Flesh

The President's Gardens

Muhsin Al-Ramli

Beside Myself

Ann Morgan

The Unlucky Lottery

Hakan Nesser

The Prague Cemetery

Umberto Eco

Empire of the Wolves

Jean-Christophe Grangé

The House of Impossible Beauties

Joseph Cassara

Before, During, After

Richard Bausch

The Undertaking

Audrey Magee

The Consequences of Love

Sulaiman Addonia

Always the Sun

Neil Cross

Fires in the Dark

Louise Doughty

The Lamplighter

Anthony O'Neill

Blood Red Rivers

Jean-Christophe Grangé

Lies, First Person

Gail Hareven

The Last Pilot

Benjamin Johncock

Blue Light Yokohama

Nicholás Obregón

Wake

Anna Hope

The Book of Night Women

Marlon James

The Hanging Shed

Gordon Ferris

The Betrayal

Helen Dunmore

Devil's Peak

Deon Meyer

The Fountain at the Centre of the World

Robert Newman

Backlash

Rod Duncan

July

Karen Roberts

Ladysmith

Giles Foden

The Director's Cut

Nicholas Royle