R&R Book Tours Proudly Presents: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, a fascinating novella inspired by true events!
Today, you have an excerpt to read, an amazing giveaway to enter, and my thoughts on the book!
The Finest Supermarket in Kabul (Publication Date: Oct. 30th, 2017)
Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.
Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.
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I found this to be a very well-written fictional account of a savage attack in Kabul, and how the aftermath affects three specific individuals. The author skillfully depicts Kabul in such a way, that the reader is instantly transported there.
I’m always so impressed when a story, particularly of this magnitude, can be told within the confines of a novella. Despite having only snapshots of the characters and their lives, they are still well-rounded and fully developed, and her evocative depiction of such a tragic event will stay with you.
Overall, I was left with a strong picture of Kabul in my mind, and the lingering affects of experiencing what life would be like for its people. Talk about a book hangover! This is powerful stuff people!
As we drive, I look out the window and observe people walking and riding bikes, some weaving in and out of traffic. Ahead of us, a hunched man pushes a large, three-wheeled cart piled with green and purple cabbages past a drainage ditch carrying water, trash and sewage to canals around the city. I’ve sometimes seen people burning garbage in or beside those trenches. In a fit of ingenuity, I heard that the government reduced its work-week by a day last November to cut down on air pollution in Kabul, assuming fewer workers would mean fewer busses. Based on what I’ve experienced, I don’t think that will be of much help.
As we approach Sherpur, the “poppy palaces” come into view; looking like a display of bad wedding cakes, these are four- and five-storied, gaudily painted dwellings, constructed by former warlords and rented by bureaucrats and international organizations; some of my friends have lived here. Vegas without the lights, I like to think.
A checkpoint of large concrete slabs guarded by about six police officers with AK-47s blocks the road. Parked to the side are two green pickup trucks with white Arabic writing on the back doors and Police written in English on the front. It strikes me as curious that the Arabic script is an entire paragraph while the English is just the one word.
As we approach, the nearest police officer looks directly at me. I smile but he doesn’t smile back. He’s wearing a large, flashy silver wristwatch. He waves us on with his gun.
To me, Kabul is more like a suburb than a capital city. Most of the buildings are one-story, functional brown structures that, for most of the year, blend in with the scrubby surrounding mountains. The roofs of mosques are the one place to find colour: sky blue, gold, turquoise. Dispersed across the top of the city, the domes seem like a scattered game of marbles, waiting for the next player to take a turn. This makes me think how madrassas – religious schools – usually taught in mosques, are often the only educational option for poorer parents.
At 2:51 p.m., about five minutes after the first alert, I receive a second message: Security alert. White City in effect.
My heart beats wildly. White City is the UN’s highest security alert and means that all movement for staff is promptly suspended. This is something serious. I try valiantly to focus on the Time magazine but am compelled to flip open my phone and check for new messages even though I’ll be notified when one comes in. My mind keeps wandering. I desperately want to call Nate but reason with myself to wait; he’s gotten my messages, so the ball is in his court.
The next message: Security alert at the Finest Supermarket. White City in effect.
I gasp. White City generally means an attack by a suicide bomber or men with guns. My mind races through the ten minutes I spent there not even two hours ago. My eyes flit around but don’t focus anywhere. I clench my teeth and stare at the newspaper bundle by my elbow. I let out an audible sigh and slump in my seat, feeling drained by the reality of having been at a spot where an alert has just been issued.
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About the Author
Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland. Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure. Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.
For your chance to win a print copy of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, or 1 of 5 $20 Amazon GCs, be sure to enter the giveaway!
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