“It’s about individual conflict that takes place on a huge stage. But the two warriors also represent the ten other players; it’s a relationship between the one and the many. The individual and the social, the leader and the follower, the individual and the universal.”
When I feel like I can’t find anything to read in my school library, I close my eyes, spin myself around, and grab one at random. This works with varying degrees of success, but this was definitely a winner. Such drama! Such gritty realism! It is an absolutely phenomenal book.
“This is blackmail,” Veer said, still angry. “No, this is Afghanistan,” Jahan replied.
The Taliban Cricket Club is set in the late 1990s, when the Taliban invaded and took control of Afganistan, calling it the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’. In war-torn Kabul, Rukshana, a spirited young journalist, schemes to ensure her and her family’s freedom from the Taliban’s tyrannical reign by entering them in a cricket tournament where the winner will travel to Pakistan to train and then play at an international level. Also woven into the book is Rukshana’s forbidden love story with Veer, a man she meets while studying at university in Delhi. With an exhilarating final few chapters, this was a book that glued itself to my fingers.
“We had been exuberant people, loquacious, generous with our smiles and laughter, but now we speak in whispers, afraid to be overheard.”
Rukshana, the main character, is fun vibrant, courageous, and clever all rolled into one. As she dresses up as a boy to escape marriage to the tyrant Taliban minister Wahidi, you really become inverted. Will she and her oddbod band of misfits manage to come out on top, or will they be caught and sent to prison?
There are other characters to become invested in too – the friends that Rukshana makes in Dubai, and her cousins, who form her cricket team, which they call ‘The Taliban Cricket Club’. They are all very loveable and loyal, and you almost immediately warm to them.
“Cricket is theatre, it’s dance, it’s an opera. It’s dramatic.”
This story starts with a bang and ended with a scene that would have made more emotional people than me cry with happiness. It is a story of bravery in the heart of adversity, and it will make me smile every time.