The Carpet Weaver
by Nemat Sadat
When you read a book and that book leaves a lasting impression on you and that in a way changes your perception towards life is what I call a ‘Book to keep on your shelf forever’. And Nemat Sadat’s book ‘The Carpet Weaver’ is one such book. This book brought forth my emotions in torrent. I was struck with the brilliance of the narrative. Despite the book being Nemat’s debut, I was left awestruck with an appreciation for his writing style, its pace, and its creative profundity.
Afghanistan, 1977. Kanishka Nurzada, the son of a leading carpet seller, falls in love with his friend Maihan, with whom he shares his first kiss at the age of sixteen. Their romance must be kept secret in a nation where the death penalty is meted out to those deemed to be kuni, a derogatory term for gay men. And when war comes to Afghanistan, it brings even greater challenges-and danger-for the two lovers.
From the cultural melting pot of Kabul to the horrors of an internment camp in Pakistan, Kanishka’s arduous journey finally takes him to the USA in the desperate search for a place to call home-and the fervent hope of reuniting with his beloved Maihan. But destiny seems to have different plans in store for him.
Intimate and powerful, The Carpet Weaver is a sweeping tale of a young gay man’s struggle to come of age and find love in the face of brutal persecution.
Set in 1970s Afghanistan, ‘The Carpet Weaver’ is a coming-out story of Kanishka, amidst this pours political disarray. This is also a story of love that is a transgression, even in the high society of Afghanistan, where girls and boys mix freely yet homosexuality is frowned upon.
This coming of age story is divided into three parts. Three important life-changing twists in Kanishka’s life, which as the story gradually progresses, so progresses the years, and we along with the protagonist escape the once peaceful land of Afghanistan to the refugee camps in the far off ranges of the Baluchistan in Pakistan and then to the US ‘Promised Land of America’, where he slowly starts to rebuild his life.
This gut-wrenching book will take you to the places, you’d never want to visit. The pain and emotions throughout the book are as vivid as reality. But also this book is a lesson unto itself. However heartbreaking it may be, one has to stand for himself. I was equally elated – for Kanshka stood for what he was and, heartbroken – because he had to leave his family.
Nemat’s The Carpet Weaver reminded me so much of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Both in their own way stirred us and showed us the stark reality of humanity.
This heartwrenching story has earned a 5 out of 5 stars for the author’s sheer empathetic penmanship and the characters that were as alive as any of us. I say, read this fast-paced book, which will compel you to search for the answers, for this book raised many questions.