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The Taliban Cricket Club

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Rukhsana is a spirited young journalist working for the Kabul Daily in Afghanistan. She takes care of her ill, widowed mother and her younger brother, Jahan. With the arrival of a summons for Rukhsana to appear before the infamous Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the family’s world is shattered. The Minister, zorak Wahidi, has two goals in min Rukhsana is a spirited young journalist working for the Kabul Daily in Afghanistan. She takes care of her ill, widowed mother and her younger brother, Jahan. With the arrival of a summons for Rukhsana to appear before the infamous Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the family’s world is shattered. The Minister, zorak Wahidi, has two goals in mind: to threaten the anti-Taliban news reporters and to announce the Taliban’s intention to hold a cricket tournament, the winner of which will represent Afghanistan in international cricket and give the brutal regime a cloak of respectability in the world. Rukhsana knows this is a ludicrous idea—the Taliban could never embrace a game rooted in civility, fair play and equality. And no one in Afghanistan even plays cricket—no one, that is, except Rukhsana. This could be, however, a way to get her male cousins and her brother out of Afghanistan for good. But Wahidi has a third goal in mind—to marry Rukhsana. The union would be her death sentence, wrenching her away from her family and placing her under Wahidi’s complete control. Forced into hiding and desperate to escape the country, Rukhsana realizes that Wahidi may have given her a way out, too. When her loyal, beloved cousins ask for her help, she sets about teaching them how to win their own freedom—with a bat and a ball.


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Rukhsana is a spirited young journalist working for the Kabul Daily in Afghanistan. She takes care of her ill, widowed mother and her younger brother, Jahan. With the arrival of a summons for Rukhsana to appear before the infamous Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the family’s world is shattered. The Minister, zorak Wahidi, has two goals in min Rukhsana is a spirited young journalist working for the Kabul Daily in Afghanistan. She takes care of her ill, widowed mother and her younger brother, Jahan. With the arrival of a summons for Rukhsana to appear before the infamous Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the family’s world is shattered. The Minister, zorak Wahidi, has two goals in mind: to threaten the anti-Taliban news reporters and to announce the Taliban’s intention to hold a cricket tournament, the winner of which will represent Afghanistan in international cricket and give the brutal regime a cloak of respectability in the world. Rukhsana knows this is a ludicrous idea—the Taliban could never embrace a game rooted in civility, fair play and equality. And no one in Afghanistan even plays cricket—no one, that is, except Rukhsana. This could be, however, a way to get her male cousins and her brother out of Afghanistan for good. But Wahidi has a third goal in mind—to marry Rukhsana. The union would be her death sentence, wrenching her away from her family and placing her under Wahidi’s complete control. Forced into hiding and desperate to escape the country, Rukhsana realizes that Wahidi may have given her a way out, too. When her loyal, beloved cousins ask for her help, she sets about teaching them how to win their own freedom—with a bat and a ball.

30 review for The Taliban Cricket Club

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book is set in Afghanistan during the rein of the Taliban, having read all of Khaled Hosseni's books I am very interested in both this country and the rein of these monsters. This book is horrific and you just can't imagine the circumstances in which these people lived. I feel the author described it well and sensitivity. I couldn't help but bond with these characters. Having lived in the Middle East for 9 years now these stories will always touch my heart. Thoroughly recommend, its harrowi This book is set in Afghanistan during the rein of the Taliban, having read all of Khaled Hosseni's books I am very interested in both this country and the rein of these monsters. This book is horrific and you just can't imagine the circumstances in which these people lived. I feel the author described it well and sensitivity. I couldn't help but bond with these characters. Having lived in the Middle East for 9 years now these stories will always touch my heart. Thoroughly recommend, its harrowing but needs to be read to promote awareness of the issues still faced in some parts of the world. 2021 update - Here we go again watching history repeat itself :(

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kat Ward

    Ever go online and watch the execution back in 1999 of the woman covered in a burqa as she knelt down on the field at Kabul's Olympic Stadium? For some reason, I did. Maybe because I needed to see it to believe it. I remember after 9/11 when suddenly the Bush administration jumped on the bandwagon, speaking out about how atrociously the Taliban treated women—like they hadn't been for some time already—using this as another reason to convince the American people of the "right" for an American inv Ever go online and watch the execution back in 1999 of the woman covered in a burqa as she knelt down on the field at Kabul's Olympic Stadium? For some reason, I did. Maybe because I needed to see it to believe it. I remember after 9/11 when suddenly the Bush administration jumped on the bandwagon, speaking out about how atrociously the Taliban treated women—like they hadn't been for some time already—using this as another reason to convince the American people of the "right" for an American invasion. I remember my liberal feminism flaring, incensed that this issue was being used for political reasons, even while I was happy that the plight of Afghan women was finally getting more publicity. The reality of life under the Taliban, especially for women, is at the heart of "The Taliban Cricket Club." In regard to the title, the Taliban actually did apply to become a part of the International Cricket Council in 2000, but the application was declined. But author Murari takes this premise and follows through with the "what if" via her main character Rukhsana. She feels crushed, smothered, and in a constant state of fear by life under that Taliban, especially after having the joy and freedom of working at a local newspaper and living for a time in India. I found Murari quite successful in describing the aura of life for people under the Taliban. Just the scene of women in the family having to learn how to wear and walk in a burqa was staggering. It's a world of which we have no idea, thank god. In the end, this is a feel good book for the characters involved, but for me there was a lingering ache knowing that in reality, life in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls, is still a struggle, the Taliban still striving to force their rigid beliefs and way of life on this highly troubled land.

  3. 4 out of 5

    dely

    This book has nothing of what I'm looking for while reading: it doesn't teach me something new, I couldn't relate to any of the characters and wasn't involved emotionally. It also wasn't entertaining: the events are predictable, the story line is clichéd and not believable; there are also a lot of details that aren't accurate. For example the fake beard: I don't think it can be made of female hair because a beard has frizzy hair so everybody would see the difference. Also, this fake beard was at This book has nothing of what I'm looking for while reading: it doesn't teach me something new, I couldn't relate to any of the characters and wasn't involved emotionally. It also wasn't entertaining: the events are predictable, the story line is clichéd and not believable; there are also a lot of details that aren't accurate. For example the fake beard: I don't think it can be made of female hair because a beard has frizzy hair so everybody would see the difference. Also, this fake beard was attached with Velcro but how was the other part of the Velcro attached to the skin? The character that uses this fake beard puts it on and takes it away too easily. It's full of such strange details and this made the story even less credible. The characters aren't well defined and they have no nuances. Though there are some bad happenings for which the reader should feel for the characters, I couldn't relate to their feelings because I already knew that the story would have a happy end. This because despite the sad happenings the characters had always a lot of luck so every bad happening was followed by a good one. This too made the story not credible. It seemed that the author wanted the reader to feel for them but he didn't succeed. Also the dialogues weren't good: too short, cold and detached. Also this didn't make the characters look real. There was too much Cricket in it. I don't know anything about this game and though I've looked for it on the internet I'm not able to understand the rules. This made the reading experience even worse because the pages about Cricket were for me incomprehensible so I couldn't feel the excitement for the game.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Detlor

    The Taliban Cricket Club is a moving story of family, friendship, honor, and courage in the face of the horrors of war. In a world where women are no longer permitted to have rights and freedoms, Rukhsana continues to risk her life by writing stories about the cruelty of the Taliban. She along with other journalists, are summoned to appear before the “Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.” They stand in line, expecting to meet their end in front of a firing squad; but ar The Taliban Cricket Club is a moving story of family, friendship, honor, and courage in the face of the horrors of war. In a world where women are no longer permitted to have rights and freedoms, Rukhsana continues to risk her life by writing stories about the cruelty of the Taliban. She along with other journalists, are summoned to appear before the “Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.” They stand in line, expecting to meet their end in front of a firing squad; but are spared after being informed that they will write what they are told to write in order to remain among the living. Rukhsana is violently reminded that if she is caught writing anything it will bring her death. The journalists are informed that the Taliban (which banned sports of all kinds) intends to hold a cricket tournament and become part of the world cricket organization, creating an air of respectability and sportsmanship to their regime. The winners will be flown from Kabul to Afghanistan to train and compete. Rukhsana sees this farce as an opportunity to get her brother and her male cousins out of Kabul to a place where they can escape to freedom more easily. She uses her cricket experience from university (and the days where women had rights) to secretly train her team to win; while also planning her own escape from the hell they live in under Taliban rule. Murari’s story grabbed my attention immediately. The heartlessness and brutality of war is present throughout the book, as are lighthearted and moving moments. The writing is fast paced. The characters are well written. It was a difficult book to set aside. I found myself drawn into the story and wanting to know the outcome: wanting fellowship to defeat tyranny. The Taliban Cricket Club was a fantastic read! It’s not the sort of book I would have gravitated to, but I’m glad it landed in my hands. I highly recommend this one! Special thanks to HarperCollins Canada and goodreads, for an advance reader’s copy!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Amazing book- absolutely loved it. Well written, heart breaking, engaging,humour and tears. There are so many issues raised by this book (not it's primary aim)it would make a great book club book. The heroine, Rukhsana is an incredible woman, brave, feisty and passionate. The book doesn't dwell on atrocities but they are there in the background. A story of courage and hope in the face of the most oppresive adversity. It says it all that I picked it up on a whim and have sat and read the whole th Amazing book- absolutely loved it. Well written, heart breaking, engaging,humour and tears. There are so many issues raised by this book (not it's primary aim)it would make a great book club book. The heroine, Rukhsana is an incredible woman, brave, feisty and passionate. The book doesn't dwell on atrocities but they are there in the background. A story of courage and hope in the face of the most oppresive adversity. It says it all that I picked it up on a whim and have sat and read the whole thing in a matter of hours

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anne Hamilton

    What an exquisitely fine balancing act Timeri Murari pulls off in this delightful, different book. The dark brutality of rule under the Taliban contrasts with the genuine integrity and honour of Rukhsana's brother and cousins who all want to escape the country. Rukhsana is a journalist who has come back to Kabul to honour her own obligation to care for her dying mother, as well as marry her betrothed. Left behind at university in Delhi is the man she loves. In the meantime, she has attracted the What an exquisitely fine balancing act Timeri Murari pulls off in this delightful, different book. The dark brutality of rule under the Taliban contrasts with the genuine integrity and honour of Rukhsana's brother and cousins who all want to escape the country. Rukhsana is a journalist who has come back to Kabul to honour her own obligation to care for her dying mother, as well as marry her betrothed. Left behind at university in Delhi is the man she loves. In the meantime, she has attracted the obsessive attention of Zorak Wahidi, a murderous government official in charge of the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. In a bid to change its international image, the government decides to sponsor a cricket competition - the winning team to go to Pakistan and be coached in the finer points of the game. Rukhsana's brother Jahan and her cousins are inspired: here might be a legitimate way out of the country. But who in Afghanistan knows how to play cricket? As it transpires, Rukhsana does. At university in cricket-mad India, she was part of a team. And she's still got the gear. And the rule book. More importantly, she has a vision of the philosophy behind cricket: its idealism, democracy, team-work, initiative. The cousins are sure the Taliban do not grasp Rukhsana's vision. There's a big problem: playing cricket in a burkha is all but impossible. How can Rukhsana coach the family team, 'The Taliban Cricket Club', to win as well as save her brother and cousins while stuck behind a vision-obscuring veil? If that wasn't enough, can she trust her cousins? Her brother? In a world influenced the Taliban, how does a male now think about the honour of his female relatives? What about her dying mother? What about her betrothed? What about the man she loves? What about the Minister for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice whose brother is making increasingly savage threats? A beautifully composed book, deftly laced with humour and light, in which love, hope and genuine honour triumph in the darkest of places.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tazeen

    Life in Kabul has become a sellable literary genre of its own. The success of hauntingly beautiful The Kite Runner opened the flood gates and there is no stopping since then. From fiction to nonfiction to memoirs, if the book mentions Kabul, women abuse and Taliban, chances are that it will get a publisher or two with some decent marketing budget. If a book as shoddily written as Kabul Beauty School can triumph at international best seller lists, then The Taliban Cricket Club should be considere Life in Kabul has become a sellable literary genre of its own. The success of hauntingly beautiful The Kite Runner opened the flood gates and there is no stopping since then. From fiction to nonfiction to memoirs, if the book mentions Kabul, women abuse and Taliban, chances are that it will get a publisher or two with some decent marketing budget. If a book as shoddily written as Kabul Beauty School can triumph at international best seller lists, then The Taliban Cricket Club should be considered a master piece but boy, is it a bad book or what! I generally have no love lost for all things Afghanistan and Kabul, probably because I have lived too close to most things described in those books and also because I have been to Afghanistan and I always find the book version of Kabul very unreal and caricature like. I picked up The Taliban Cricket Club at the local library during the T20 World Cup when I was feeling homesick and missing cricket and live tweeting and cursing with my friends and fellow compatriots because that’s always so much fun (and heartache when your team lose). The book, however, turned out to be a major disappointment. For starters, the introduction of Rukhsana as a spirited young journalist ticked just about every cliché that ever existed about spirited young femalejournalist ever. As a person who has been that spirited young female journalist, it was major yawn fest. When we are young and spirited, we do not think everything through like Rukhsana, we do things because we believe in ourselves and the power of written word and the naivety that it can bring about the desired change, but I digress. The plot is simple. Taliban are ruling Afghanistan and things are awful. One day, they call all journalists, including our spirited protagonist Rukhsana, to announce that they are keen on developing an Afghan cricket team. There would be a local tournament with local teams and the best of the best would make up for a national team which will first travel to Pakistan to get trained and would then tour the rest of the world. According to the book, no one in Kabul knew how to play cricket except for Rukhsana, which is the biggest bull shit ever because Pathans from both sides of the border have been mingling each other to not know about cricket. How does our heroine know so much about cricket if she grew up in Afghanistan and living under Taliban? Well, for starters, her childhood friend and betrothed had friends in Lahore who taught him how to play cricket and he in turn taught Rukhsana and then played with her in their compound. Secondly, she went to college in India and played for her college team in Delhi which apparently made her an expert in the game. Rukhsana comes up with the plan to teach her teenage brother and her cousins to play cricket so that they can escape Afghanistan and brutal Taliban regime. Apart from the rather weak story line, there are things that irritated me to no end about the book. One was this four page long tirade about how cricket is a genteel game that epitomizes fair play and equality. I wondered if the writer was not familiar with competitive sport that is cricket these days. What he wrote about was an afternoon friendly match in a rural England after Sunday lunch where everyone was bit mellow after food and a pint or two of beer. It is not the game where Hansie Cronje lost his life, Mohammed Azharuddin lost his reputation and young Mohammed Amir lost his career. The other thing that got my beef (no pun intended) was Rukhsana’s mother asking her to get vegetables for ‘quorma’. As a person who has cooked ‘quorma’ innumerable times, the only vegetable used in that dish is onion and that too to make gravy. The writer should’ve checked quorma recipe if he really wanted to include that in his book, it would’ve been better if he had not named the dish or just called it a stew. I know it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot I do get irritated with lazy writing like that. Is it too much to run a google search when you are writing a book? If there is a protagonist in the story, there has got to be an antagonist. Zorak Wahidi was that villain – at times so cartoonish that I ended up picturing Teja and Crime Master Gogo instead of this fearsome bearded Taliban minister. When summoned, Rukhsana went to see this minister of vice and virtue with her teenage brother and a couple of cousins. The whole scene where he killed a couple for adultery in front of them and how some other Talib dudes ogled at her brother had me rolling my eyes instead of feeling the terror and muster sympathy for them. As if random killing was not enough, the villain had to seek our heroine’s hand in marriage because that’s what evil villains do, seek hand of fair maidens in marriage when they get a break from killing random people. Like a true heroine, Rukhsana is not without her share of better suitors. There is Shaheen, her well mannered, well educated, banker childhood betrothed living in USA. He is perfect on paper and Shaheen kind of knew that she would end up with him but she declined a formal engagement not one but four times because her heart belonged to someone else – an Indian dude – a documentary film maker named Veer. I mean seriously? Have we not all seen Veer Zara already? The chapters about her learning cricket and them dating in India were meh! Their first kiss was bleh! There was a page long text about Rukhsana’s awaked sexuality and maturity with that one single kiss in the back seat of a cinema in Delhi at the ripe old age of 17 was so corny that I wanted to scream like a banshee. I mean Hello! If that Veer character’s kiss was so magical, he should have started bottling and selling it to become the next Ambani. Among other things, the book tells us that Pakistanis are generally bad people. I know that there is not a lot of love lost between Afghans and Pakistanis but the way it was written, it was clear that it was not written with an Afghan perspective but an obviously Indian one. A good writer needs to find a voice for his or her characters, not force his own voice onto them. Mr Murari – the writer – obviously failed to do that. In the end, it was the Indian love interest Veer – the man with magical kisses – who came to Kabul to save the day and win Rukhsana’s team the cricket tournament which enabled them to get to Pakistan and then run away to other parts of the world. As he was an NRI, he had a wad of Benjamins to help the Afghan cousins of the heroine to get them to their desired parts of the world. The fact that the captain of the opposing cricket team was named Waseem (the bad guy of course) and had played for a club in Rawalpindi was not lost on the readers. The writer Timeri N. Murari is apparently a big writer in India but this book was absolute shit. I can totally picture how he came about the plot. It must have been one long weekend when he watched both Lagaan and Veer Zara on TV and then some news about Talibaan and had some bad idli and sambar and thought, I too can write a saga comprising of various countries and escape from Afghanistan and become next Khaled Hoseini. I mean it has cricket, inter faith cross border romance and a feisty heroine, what else would the public want? Errr how about some originality, research and some heart. Honestly, it was one of those stories where you end up rooting for the villain which in this case was the Taliban minister for vice and virtue. Yes, this book made me root for a Talib and that is quite a feat. I would give this book half a star for the effort it must have taken the writer to sit down and write all 336 pages. The story is clichéd and predictable with boring uni dimensional characters ad really bad narrative. You want to slap the hell outta the protagonist by the end of it. http://tazeen.net/2014/04/22/the-tali...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Resh (The Book Satchel)

    3.5 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a what if story that concerns itself with the application of Taliban Afghanistan at the international Cricket Union and this was in real life ignored and in this book accepted if they can field some real cricket and team. So some young Afghans are asked to form a cricket team and train for a small cricket tournament in Afghanistan. The leading lady Rukhsana has some experience with playing cricket in her time at university in India and she must teach her cousins the art of cricket. Rukhsan This is a what if story that concerns itself with the application of Taliban Afghanistan at the international Cricket Union and this was in real life ignored and in this book accepted if they can field some real cricket and team. So some young Afghans are asked to form a cricket team and train for a small cricket tournament in Afghanistan. The leading lady Rukhsana has some experience with playing cricket in her time at university in India and she must teach her cousins the art of cricket. Rukhsana used to be a trained journalist in Afghanistan until the Taliban came and made women secondhand citizen and this book gives enough examples of serious misogyny by the Talib towards women and with often horrific consequences. Rukhsana has also captured the interest of some high-ranking Talib person who wants to marry her and be a mother for his orphaned sons and she can be taught to be a decent wife. So Rukhsana has to train her cousins and remain hidden from the Talib so she hides in plain sight as a man, with a fake beard of course. It is a romantic story, a comedy and manages all that with in the horrific creation of Taliban Afghanistan. And the writer delivers an insightful and entertaining novel that shows the spirit of the Afghans and manages that without wagging its finger towards anybody, unless you are a member of the Taliban, and you'd deserve it. It is well worth your time reading this novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Maybe I've read too many novels that take place in Afghanistan or Iran because this book was just too predicable. It had a different twist to it that made it different than the other books, that being the sport Cricket. But the same story line that I see in all of these books is: Woman betrothed to someone she doesn't love or forced to marry a bad man but is really in love with someone else. This book still had an interesting story but I prefer the writing style I've read in some other Middle Ea Maybe I've read too many novels that take place in Afghanistan or Iran because this book was just too predicable. It had a different twist to it that made it different than the other books, that being the sport Cricket. But the same story line that I see in all of these books is: Woman betrothed to someone she doesn't love or forced to marry a bad man but is really in love with someone else. This book still had an interesting story but I prefer the writing style I've read in some other Middle Eastern historical fiction novels better. This book really was just too predictable. I still had to finish to confirm my predictions.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rosanne Hawke

    I loved The Taliban Cricket Club and so did my husband. I was impressed at how author Timeri n Murari managed to use humour (or should I say satire) with such dangerous, dark and sad content. The mismatch of cricket with its peaceful laws and the Taliban was amusing to start with and yet the story is a well written thriller as well. Five stars for the truth, lightly and beautifully told in a memorable way.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madhulika Liddle

    In a Kabul under the brutal hand of the Taliban, a woman is shot dead by the religious police for venturing out without her mahram, a male relative. So what if she was headed for the hospital in a desperate bid to save her ill baby, and there was no mahram to accompany her? For Kabul in the late 90s is a horrendous place to be: vicious, merciless, ferociously repressive. Photos and cinema are banned, games are forbidden, women must never be seen without their burqas, people are executed at the d In a Kabul under the brutal hand of the Taliban, a woman is shot dead by the religious police for venturing out without her mahram, a male relative. So what if she was headed for the hospital in a desperate bid to save her ill baby, and there was no mahram to accompany her? For Kabul in the late 90s is a horrendous place to be: vicious, merciless, ferociously repressive. Photos and cinema are banned, games are forbidden, women must never be seen without their burqas, people are executed at the drop of a hat. Against this backdrop is set the story of 24 year old Rukhsana, who lives in Kabul with her widowed mother (now battling the last stages of cancer) and her 16 year old brother Jahan. Once a journalist but forced to quit her job by the Taliban—women must not work in jobs such as this—Rukhsana has been sneaking out reports under a pseudonym to the Hindustan Times while waiting to go to America to get married. She is under no illusions: her intended, Shaheen, and Rukhsana are just childhood friends, not in love; marriage is an obligation imposed by their families. And deep in her heart Rukhsana loves another man, knowing full well that she will never see him again. While Rukhsana waits for her mother to die, however, two things happen: the Taliban regime announces that they've decided cricket—where the players are 'decently' clad—might be a good way of building ties with the rest of the world, so Afghanistan will apply for an ICC membership, and matches will be held to select a team to represent the country and travel to Pakistan for further coaching. Then, Rukhsana gets a proposal—rather, an order—from Wahidi, a brutal and ruthless Taliban minister who wants to marry her. What Wahidi does not know is that Rukhsana (who studied journalism at Delhi University and spent years in Delhi) used to be a star cricketer. What he does not know is that this courageous young woman— along with an army of young male cousins (and Jahan, her brother)— will do anything it takes to somehow form a team that can win the national tournament, and be sent to Pakistan... from where they can make their way to freedom. Or can they? For Rukhsana, her relatives and friends, things may change even as they watch. I found Timeri N Murari's The Taliban Cricket Club an extremely readable book, virtually impossible to put down. It's a great blend of different genres: suspense, adventure (the cricket match angle gets woven in into an almost Escape to Victory style theme, just as fast-paced and edge of the seat); romance; the very occasional glimpse of humour; the pathos of Rukhsana's dying mother. And, of course, the very vivid, very real horror of a regime utterly, unbelievably tyrannical. An excellent book, very well-written, and immensely satisfying.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam Still Reading

    When I first read the title of this book, I wondered what on earth it could be about. From what I knew about the Taliban, they didn’t appear to have time to play cricket! But as you read this book, with its equal measures of repression, love, humour and intense sadness, you will understand exactly why this name is the perfect title. Murari writes a sensitive book that will have you laughing, crying and cheering in equal measures. The main character of the novel is Rukshana, a former journalist wh When I first read the title of this book, I wondered what on earth it could be about. From what I knew about the Taliban, they didn’t appear to have time to play cricket! But as you read this book, with its equal measures of repression, love, humour and intense sadness, you will understand exactly why this name is the perfect title. Murari writes a sensitive book that will have you laughing, crying and cheering in equal measures. The main character of the novel is Rukshana, a former journalist who is now forced to write undercover using pseudonyms after not being allowed to work under the Taliban regime. Strangely, she is called to a press conference where it announced that Afghanistan will be holding a cricket tournament and the winners are allowed to travel out of the country – unheard of. Rukshana’s cousins decide to form a team for the ultimate prize – and if they win, they’re not coming back. One problem though: Rukshana’s the only person who knows how to play cricket. Enter watching banned cricket videos under the cover of darkness, some daring disguises and the boys begin to learn their new sport. However, the minister for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has now decided he wishes to marry Rukshana, putting her life at risk. How can Rukshana teach the team to win and evade a forced marriage? If you loved A Thousand Splendid Suns, you’ll adore this book. Murari balances the descriptions of the severe restrictions forced on the women of Kabul with funny stories of the boys playing cricket and Rukshana’s happier days at university in India. I did have to put down the book several times to compose myself – the injustices that Rukshana faces just because of her sex are difficult to comprehend. Not being allowed to go to the letterbox without as escort is a small but essential freedom denied to her. (Would you rely on your younger brother to post your letters?) What is happier and more amusing, is the ways that the team try to thwart the tyrannies to achieve their freedom – from costumes to fake cousins to practising in the basement. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but please allow yourself adequate time to read and read because you won’t be able to put this down!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shannon White

    The Taliban Cricket Club is a fictional novel based on an obscure historical truth -- the Taliban briefly promoted cricket in Afghanistan. However despite the seemingly dire subject, the Taliban Cricket Club maintains a light-hearted feel throughout the book. The main character, Rukhsana, is a spirited young lady that seeks to take action where she can to defy the Taliban regime. She gathers a motley crew of cousins to participate in a state sponsored cricket tournament where the first prize is The Taliban Cricket Club is a fictional novel based on an obscure historical truth -- the Taliban briefly promoted cricket in Afghanistan. However despite the seemingly dire subject, the Taliban Cricket Club maintains a light-hearted feel throughout the book. The main character, Rukhsana, is a spirited young lady that seeks to take action where she can to defy the Taliban regime. She gathers a motley crew of cousins to participate in a state sponsored cricket tournament where the first prize is training abroad. The family team is hopeful that the tournament will be their ticket out of the country. The Taliban Cricket Club slowly evolves as the reader progresses from the usual story of Taliban tyranny to the most unusual stories of ways to defy it. The first half and second half of the novel have two distinct feels with the latter half being a more entertaining read. Although predictable, The Taliban Cricket Club has something for everyone -- from tales of living under the Taliban to action packed sporting passages to hopeful romance. It is an enjoyable and light-hearted read. Had the flow of the novel been more consistent and the story been slightly less predictable, it would have received 4 stars. Recommended for those who enjoy chick lit but are looking to diversify into books with cross-cultural themes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    I'll begin with my conclusion: READ THIS BOOK :) That said, why the lukewarm rating? This book was captivating to say the least. In a world of rampant Islamophobia, more people need to understand the rise of the Talib. The best way to overcome irrational, ignorant fear is to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger. In this novel, this stranger happens to be Rukhsana, a strikingly likable girl. Murari was an expert at building tension and handling the most frightening scenes. I would give five star I'll begin with my conclusion: READ THIS BOOK :) That said, why the lukewarm rating? This book was captivating to say the least. In a world of rampant Islamophobia, more people need to understand the rise of the Talib. The best way to overcome irrational, ignorant fear is to walk a mile in the shoes of a stranger. In this novel, this stranger happens to be Rukhsana, a strikingly likable girl. Murari was an expert at building tension and handling the most frightening scenes. I would give five stars to the beginning and early middle of this story. However, the ending read like a Hollywood movie. Which takes me back to my conclusion, once again. Regardless of the slightly unbelievable ending, READ THIS BOOK.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    I thought this book was non-fiction when I started it, it seemed so realistic. It is a really good book. A look at life under the Taliban in Afghanistan from a woman's perspective. As she chafes against the oppression of the regime and resents the limits placed upon her life, Rukhsana pines for her previous freedom. She is a journalist who must now practise her profession by working under a pen name and is unable to publish her work in her own country. There can be no criticism of the Taliban an I thought this book was non-fiction when I started it, it seemed so realistic. It is a really good book. A look at life under the Taliban in Afghanistan from a woman's perspective. As she chafes against the oppression of the regime and resents the limits placed upon her life, Rukhsana pines for her previous freedom. She is a journalist who must now practise her profession by working under a pen name and is unable to publish her work in her own country. There can be no criticism of the Taliban and she cannot leave the house unaccompanied or uncovered. Then, there is the opportunity to escape and the unlikely vehicle for this escape is cricket. This is a clever story and I enjoyed every part of it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The year is 2000. Rukhsana is 24. She has returned to Kabul from Delhi, where her father was a diplomat and where she played cricket in college. Rukhsana's mother is dying of cancer. Although Rukhsana was working as a journalist, the Taliban takeover means the end of her work and brutalities to witness every time she leaves the house. Rukhsana and her brother Jahan think only of how to leave Afghanistan. A very long-shot opportunity comes along when the Taliban-led government decides to improve i The year is 2000. Rukhsana is 24. She has returned to Kabul from Delhi, where her father was a diplomat and where she played cricket in college. Rukhsana's mother is dying of cancer. Although Rukhsana was working as a journalist, the Taliban takeover means the end of her work and brutalities to witness every time she leaves the house. Rukhsana and her brother Jahan think only of how to leave Afghanistan. A very long-shot opportunity comes along when the Taliban-led government decides to improve its image by holding a cricket tournament. Jahan and several cousins form a team. Rukhsana coaches them in a game they've never seen before. Meanwhile, an evil Talib leader has become obsessed with Rukhsana. He and his brother stalk Rukhsana's house to force her to marry him. This is an escape novel--not escapist, but a book about people who are being hunted as they try to escape. Deadlines imposed by the evil Talib leader add the pressure of a shot-clock ticking down. Rukhsana masquerades as a man, hides in a secret room built into her house (apparently not an unusual feature in Kabul houses). The plot was pure tension and kept me reading along. This book feels like a silent movie--do the sweethearts defeat the cackling villain? This isn't a book with complex characters or a deep sense of place. For all the terrible things it describes, it manages to keep the tone on the light side, like a sports movie. Rukhsana's family is still fairly privileged and probably don't represent most Afghans. But it's a good story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Indra Saha

    Great concept, terribly written! For the first time I was aware a man was writing from the point of view of a woman, because the language and emotions were very off base. The insider's view of life in Taliban Kabul, especially as an independent woman is quite intriguing. I thought in the hands of a more skilled author, this would have been an amazing read. The love story, though was way too contrived, and Bollywood-ish. Great concept, terribly written! For the first time I was aware a man was writing from the point of view of a woman, because the language and emotions were very off base. The insider's view of life in Taliban Kabul, especially as an independent woman is quite intriguing. I thought in the hands of a more skilled author, this would have been an amazing read. The love story, though was way too contrived, and Bollywood-ish.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lammi Hearne-Sirman

    A well written, engaging read with humour interspersed with some harrowing detail. Rukhsana is a brave woman in an impossibly hard world. A story of courage and hope in the face of the most oppressive adversity. Read in 3 sittings it's good, but could be better. Would recommend A well written, engaging read with humour interspersed with some harrowing detail. Rukhsana is a brave woman in an impossibly hard world. A story of courage and hope in the face of the most oppressive adversity. Read in 3 sittings it's good, but could be better. Would recommend

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I loved this book. Just an amazing story... Such a strange storyline. Again showed the courage of humanity when in adversity.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emilia Barnes

    Not the easiest thing in the world to read, but then that is hardly surprising considering the theme. Yet I did enjoy it. Murari's attempt at a female voice was actually astonishingly good. It avoided painful cliches, allowed for the heroine to be both strong and vulnerable, torn and complex and likeable. She was full of spirit even though she was very afraid. I found her believable and rooting for her and her team was no challenge. The romance, too, was touching and believable. Even though some Not the easiest thing in the world to read, but then that is hardly surprising considering the theme. Yet I did enjoy it. Murari's attempt at a female voice was actually astonishingly good. It avoided painful cliches, allowed for the heroine to be both strong and vulnerable, torn and complex and likeable. She was full of spirit even though she was very afraid. I found her believable and rooting for her and her team was no challenge. The romance, too, was touching and believable. Even though some of the events described in the book are gruesome, the narration manages to still pull you through and keep up a spark of hope in you. I would have enjoyed a deeper characterisation of the cricket team itself. I've been trying, recently, to broaden my reading horizons and to look for books that were not written by English or American authors. This might well be my favourite discovery in this project so far.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A beautifully written novel about a young Afghan woman living in a Taliban controlled city. Women, to Talib men, should be seen “only in the home or the grave”. Rukhsana has seen women gunned down in the street for the crime of being without their male protectors, but yet she becomes the coach of the all male Taliban Cricket Club! Rukhsana is a brave, intelligent women who breaks a lot of rules in her search for autonomy, happiness and love, but will she survive?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wallace

    A solid 3 stars for this one. I read it for Read Harder 2019 for the book written by or about journalism. I’d say it was only loosely connected to journalism, as the main character was a journalist who was silenced by the Taliban when they seized power. I was conflicted with this book. On one hand, as someone who has read the Malala story quite fully, it feels a bit cheap to write a piece of fiction when fact is already so alarmingly brutal. On the other hand, it shed light onto the incredibly pa A solid 3 stars for this one. I read it for Read Harder 2019 for the book written by or about journalism. I’d say it was only loosely connected to journalism, as the main character was a journalist who was silenced by the Taliban when they seized power. I was conflicted with this book. On one hand, as someone who has read the Malala story quite fully, it feels a bit cheap to write a piece of fiction when fact is already so alarmingly brutal. On the other hand, it shed light onto the incredibly painful experience of women in Afghanistan for people who might not know the Malala story. The book goes into a LOT of detail about cricket, which as an American I have close to zero knowledge about or interest in. I also felt like I predicted almost everything that happened in the book, which isn’t fun...I like to be surprised here and there! Now the ending, maybe the last 10% was pretty good, and the ending was quite clever. Overall, a solid 3 stars. Glad I read it, but wouldn’t recommend it to everyone I meet.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    This is not an easy book. It's well-written and highly suspenseful, but that suspense made me anxious for the characters, so I set it aside once or twice to read something less intense and to give my poor nerves a break.This is what happens when bullies with ultimate power are in charge. This is not an easy book. It's well-written and highly suspenseful, but that suspense made me anxious for the characters, so I set it aside once or twice to read something less intense and to give my poor nerves a break.This is what happens when bullies with ultimate power are in charge.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Priyanka

    Comparing this one to Kite Runner is a crime. While the story is set in Afghanistan, it in no way gives a glimpse of the level of cruelty, destruction and barbaric nature of Taliban as Hosseni did. The plot is flimsy. It's improbable and nearly a fantasy. I had high hopes from this but it fell flat. Comparing this one to Kite Runner is a crime. While the story is set in Afghanistan, it in no way gives a glimpse of the level of cruelty, destruction and barbaric nature of Taliban as Hosseni did. The plot is flimsy. It's improbable and nearly a fantasy. I had high hopes from this but it fell flat.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

    At first, I wasn't sure where the novel was going. As I continued, I became enthralled with Rukhsana and her story. Once past the halfway point, I couldn't put the book down—I was carrying it everywhere, reading while walking. Such a great story with an amazing ending. At first, I wasn't sure where the novel was going. As I continued, I became enthralled with Rukhsana and her story. Once past the halfway point, I couldn't put the book down—I was carrying it everywhere, reading while walking. Such a great story with an amazing ending.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mélanie Blanchard

    This book was a bit slow at the beginning and it took me a while to get into the story, but I then found it to be compelling and sad: I couldn't wait to keep reading to see how everything would turn out. It made me appreciate my life and the privilege of having been born in Canada. This book was a bit slow at the beginning and it took me a while to get into the story, but I then found it to be compelling and sad: I couldn't wait to keep reading to see how everything would turn out. It made me appreciate my life and the privilege of having been born in Canada.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Harsha Priolkar

    “They banned music, movies, television, computers, picnics, and wedding parties. No New Years’s celebrations, or any kind of mixed-sex gathering; no children’s toys, including dolls and kites, card and board games or chess. No more cameras, or photographs, or paintings of people and animals. No more pet parakeets, cigarettes and alcohol, magazines and newspapers and most books. People were no allowed to be with or talk to foreigners. People could not applaud, not that there was anything to clap “They banned music, movies, television, computers, picnics, and wedding parties. No New Years’s celebrations, or any kind of mixed-sex gathering; no children’s toys, including dolls and kites, card and board games or chess. No more cameras, or photographs, or paintings of people and animals. No more pet parakeets, cigarettes and alcohol, magazines and newspapers and most books. People were no allowed to be with or talk to foreigners. People could not applaud, not that there was anything to clap for.” This is the backdrop against which The Taliban Cricket Club is set. The premise is fantastical but based on the fact that in the year 2000, the Taliban regime did actually apply for associate membership to the International Cricket Council, although the request was not accepted until after they were overthrown in 2001. It is unbelievable that a regime that banned clapping would encourage any kind of sport, but strange are the ways of men. So we have Rukhsana, a 23-yr-old struggling to surviving in this claustrophobic environment, caring for her frail mother battling cancer and her 16-yr-old brother Jahan, whom she loves like a son. The story takes us through their struggles to put together a cricket team from among their trusted family members in the hope that victory in a local Cricket tournament organized by the Taliban, will offer them a chance at freedom and a new life. You’ll just have to read the book to find out whether or not they are successful! The book is fast-paced and Murari manages to convincingly convey the prevailing dread and fragile hopes of his characters. He also manages to effectively portray the undercurrent of urgency and desperation that rule their lives on a daily basis. Danger lurks everywhere and simple chores like going to the market or posting a letter, that you and I take for granted, become an exercise in strategy and caution. Women are of course inconsequential and easy targets, and usually just the fact that they are ‘not men’ is enough to earn them death. Their fate is all the more chilling because it’s true and because we still live in a time where women are subjugated and oppressed in the name of religion, and because for the most part, we privileged ones do nothing but watch and commiserate, or turn a blind eye in the hopes that things will magically improve. There are many chilling scenes in the book that had me in tears of rage and frustration and yes, joy, because I was spared the torment through an accident of birth. But there were also heartening instances of promises fulfilled, help rendered, and lives risked for friendship and love. Murari peppers the story with descriptions of Kabul before and during its longstanding conflicts, and little glimpses into Afghan life that I enjoyed – the ritual before a meal, the funeral rites and the idea of honor that Afghan men and women alike, seem to prize higher than life itself. He shows us a once beautiful city, scarred and lamenting in the face of its helplessness, mourning its fate and that of its people. Reading a book based in Afghanistan during the Taliban years, inevitably leads to comparisons with The Kite Runner - but the two are very different in style, pace, and story, although not perhaps in intent. I enjoyed this story, especially the transformation of a motley gang of individuals into a team. It is well-written, fast-paced and ultimately satisfying. I stayed up late into the night to finish it as I reached the nerve-wracking climax! This is another book that could well make for great Bollywood – it has all the essential ingredients – Cricket, a love-story, an exotic location, friendship, loyalty, and the mandatory good versus evil angle! Karan Johar – are you listening?! ;)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aarti Nair

    What's more exciting than a story of a fierce Afghanistani woman who is a journalist until Taliban captures it. She is denied of not just working but even the most fundamental rights such as walking freely or without a male companion. This story is about the eternal wait of being saved by her lover and the secret training that she gives to her brothers in her attempt to flee them from Afghanistan. This story has nicely cashed on the historical fact that Taliban did actually once encouraged crick What's more exciting than a story of a fierce Afghanistani woman who is a journalist until Taliban captures it. She is denied of not just working but even the most fundamental rights such as walking freely or without a male companion. This story is about the eternal wait of being saved by her lover and the secret training that she gives to her brothers in her attempt to flee them from Afghanistan. This story has nicely cashed on the historical fact that Taliban did actually once encouraged cricket in the country (in spite of entertainment being banned) to create a good image worldwide. I was on a flight when I was about to finish this book and the battery of my Kindle died. The restlessness that crept in was incredible. I was hysteric! Finally when I reached home, the first thing I charged the Kindle and finished the book. This book was one hell of an emotional churning. So many things included so brilliantly and so effortlessly. Each character was true to itself. Best book of the year yet.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I think I might have read about it at The Asian Review of Books ... As their review says, sport and religion do occasionally mix, but surely the oddest example of that must be when Afghanistan under the Taliban introduced cricket in an effort to soften its brutal international image. This novel lampoons the initiative while also illustrating the tragedy of life under the Taliban and the reasons why the regime's reputation is so richly deserved. Rukhsana is a jou I really enjoyed reading this book. I think I might have read about it at The Asian Review of Books ... As their review says, sport and religion do occasionally mix, but surely the oddest example of that must be when Afghanistan under the Taliban introduced cricket in an effort to soften its brutal international image. This novel lampoons the initiative while also illustrating the tragedy of life under the Taliban and the reasons why the regime's reputation is so richly deserved. Rukhsana is a journalist, and the novel opens as she is summoned to attend at the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. (It is this ministry which operates the Taliban version of the Vice Squad, specialising in whipping women for showing their ankles or daring to venture out-of-doors without a male escort). Rukhsana is more than a little anxious about this summons because she's been sailing close to the wind, covertly producing articles about the Taliban regime and getting them published internationally so that the world will realise what's going on. The slip of paper - what it said, and what it left unsaid - was a threat. Why would he summon me? What crime had I committed now? Had I revealed my face, accidentally to a stranger? Had I, accidentally, spoken out loud in a bazaar? Had I, accidentally, revealed an ankle or a wrist? Who knew what rules were encircling us like serpents in a pit? Or could it be that he had finally caught me doing what he had warned me never to do again. As a journalist, to keep my sanity, I had to write about what I saw and heard going on around me. But I had taken extraordinary steps to remain anonymous, undetectable. I filed my stories under a pseudonym, and never directly, with the Hindustan Times in Delhi. I faxed them, when the line worked, to the home of a political columnist and friend of Father's. He banked my pay and made sure the desperately needed money reached me without raising suspicion. I also contributed to the publications of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, through a complex chain of contacts. (p. 4) To Rukhsana's astonishment the summons is to witness the announcement that Afghanistan is to conduct a cricket match to select a team of players to go to Pakistan for further training, so that Afghanistan can join the international community on the cricket pitch. Bizarre, eh? To read the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.com/2013/07/17/th...

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