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The Lovers

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781473606999

Price: £8.99

ON SALE: 28th January 2016

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General

A riveting, real-life equivalent of The Kite Runner-an astonishingly powerful and profoundly moving story of a young couple willing to risk everything for love that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world.

“She is his Juliet and he is her Romeo, and her family has threatened to kill them both…”

This is the heartrending account of Zakia and Mohammad Ali, a couple from opposing Islamic sects, who defying their society’s norms have left behind everything they know and are quite literally risking their lives for their love.

She is a Sunni, he is a Shia, but as friends from childhood Zakia and Mohammad Ali could never have predicted that their love would anger their families so much that they would be forced to leave their homes finding refuge in the harsh terrain of the Afghani mountains. Without money or passports they rely on the kindness of strangers to house them for a couple of days at a time as they remain on the run, never deterred.

New York Times journalist, Rod Nordland, has chronicled the plight of the young lovers telling their extraordinary story of courage, perseverance and love in one of the world’s most troubled countries. This moving love story is told against the bigger backdrop of the horrific but widespread practices that women are subjected to in Afghanistan.


The Lovers is a heartbreaking tale of illicit love and religious persecution. Rod Nordland seamlessly weaves the personal and the political in urgent, effortless prose to tell a story that is not only beautifully written but also vitally important for our times.
Amanda Foreman, Chair of the Man Booker Prize
A deeply reported and deeply felt book about true love and its political and personal consequences in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, for journalists and lovers, too.
Ron Javers, former Executive Editor, Newsweek International
In Nordland's telling, the pair emerge as fully rounded characters even while serving as symbols of Afghan culture's stifling restraints. From the couple's initial elopement to their unexpected elevation to media prominence ... Nordland's storytelling remains gripping, with more than a hint of Shakespearean drama. The couple's survival, in the face of familial and societal condemnation, provides a happy if incomplete resolution... less uplifting is Nordland's reporting on the overall situation for women in Afghanistan, a country that Massouda Jalal, former Afghan minister for women's affairs, calls "the worst place in the world to be a woman.
Publishers Weekly
Part riveting love story, part documentation of the fragile gains of the Afghan women's rights movement, the book details Nordland's extensive involvement with Zakia and Ali, a young couple from the mountains of Afghanistan who were forbidden to marry because of ethnic and religious differences... The Lovers is an important reminder of the complexity of Afghanistan's problems and of the fact that a long history of Western involvement has not solved them.
Rachel Newcomb, Washington Post
Though his beautifully written book is tinged with melancholy, there is a glimmer of hope: Zakia and Ali are adamant that Ruqia will be educated and marry for love. A former Afghan Women's Minister describes Afghanistan as 'the worst place in the world to be a woman'. But perhaps, Nordland suggests, Ruqia will be the true beneficiary of her parents' unshakeable belief that love conquers all.
Daily Mail
With keen and nuanced insight, Nordland details the tortuous road that Zakia and Ali travelled...Nordland became the pair's chronicler and, later, their unofficial protector when, straining the limits of his professional involvement with them, he began to help the pair financially. Meticulously reported and written, Nordland's book is an exceptionally well-delineated glimpse into the marriage practices of a closed patriarchal society and the suffering it has caused women. The author thoughtfully considers the extent to which the West, acting from the outside, can effect social reform in Muslim fundamentalist cultures. A provocative, well-told story of love at all costs and an incisive examination of the continued violation of women's rights in Afghanistan.