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About the book
  • Published: 15 May 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099542186
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

Dear Zari

Hidden Stories from Women of Afghanistan

Moving, enlightening, heart-breaking – this is a book of true stories from women in Afghanistan, giving voice to these women for the first time and allowing them to tell their stories in their own words…

In 2001 Zarghuna Kargar came to the UK as an asylum-seeker. She and her family were forced to leave their home in Kabul during the civil war and then spent several years as refugees in Pakistan. Zarghuna trained as a journalist with BBC Worldwide in Peshawar, and when she came to London she quickly got a job working at the BBC. In 2004 she became the producer and presenter for the ground-breaking ‘Afghan Women’s Hour’ – a programme which aired discussions, stories and advice, covering issues – many of which were controversial and had never before been raised – faced by Afghan women every day. The programme was broadcast to millions of people across Afghanistan where it attracted huge audiences, of both men and women. It was profoundly influential, bringing education, support and encouragement to countless women. It is this programme, and the stories that Zarghuna heard, that have inspired this book.
From the experience of being sold off in marriage as a child bride, to living as a widow shunned by society, to a childhood spent in a dark, dusty room weaving carpets - Dear Zari bring us stories which are personal and emotional, revealing how many of the customs in this deeply religious and intensely traditional society cause real suffering for women. These women have been moved to share their stories with Zarghuna in the hope that they might help someone else. And we also hear Zarghuna’s own incredible story, growing up as a refugee, beginning a new life in the west and dealing with an arranged marriage. She is a brave and compassionate advocate for these women, facing her own cultural pressures, and giving hope and reassurance to so many by bringing their experiences into light for the first time.
Profoundly moving, tender, and even, at times, funny, these tales of women's life in Afghanistan are never depressing and open up a fascinating and intimate world to a new audience.

  • Pub date: 15 May 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099542186
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

Zarghuna Kargar

Zarghuna Kargar was born in Kabul in 1982. When civil war erupted across Afghanistan, she and her family escaped to Pakistan, and it was there that Zarghuna attended a journalism course organised by the BBC. Then in 2001 her family sought asylum in the UK, and she started working for the BBC World Service Pashtu Section. She joined the team on the groundbreaking programme Afghan Woman's Hour as producer and presenter in 2004, until it was discontinued in 2010. Zarghuna now works on current affairs programmes for the BBC Afghan Service. She lives in London.

Naomi Goldsmith worked on Dear Zari with Zarghuna. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported and presented for the BBC. She met Zarghuna in Afghanistan, where they both trained local women to make radio programmes.

Praise for Dear Zari

“A poignant celebration of human resilience”

Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner


The Times

“An absorbing collection of life stories...their bravery and resilience shines through”

Independent on Sunday

“Harrowing and heart-warming”

Sunday Telegraph

“Heart-rending...harrowing... In each case, though, the resilience of the human spirit shines through”


“A heart-wrenching anthology of the personal stories”


“I am deeply touched by these stories... Dear Zari should be read by anyone who cares and wants to know about Asia and Asian women”


“Intimate, emotional, often painful but at time uplifting, these stories uncover how the customs of this deeply religious and intensely traditional society can cause real suffering for many women'”

The Middle East

“This isn't a book for the faint-hearted, but is a chilling yet emotional read for anyone who cares to know about the real plight of Afghani women. A powerful collection of true-life stories compiled over the years (and re-introduced by the author's own experience). Dear Zari takes the blanket off Afghani women, showcasing the bleak reality of their existence”


“Dear Zari is disquieting but essential reading. Occasionally uplifting, frequently harrowing, and unfailingly candid, it is a must for anyone – male or female – seeking to better understand Afghanistan”

Mike Stafford, bookgeeks.co.uk

“A powerful collection of testimonies that depict the struggles and hopes of Afghan women. An often emotional and at times painful read, this book is ultimately a poignant celebration of human resilience under unimaginable duress”

Khaled Hosseini

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