Publisher Harper Collins, December 1, 2020
An exquisite and inspiring memoir about one mother’s unimaginable choice in the face of oppression and abuse in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The day that Homeira Qaderi gave birth to her son Siawash, the road to the hospital in Kabul was barricaded because of a suicide bomber explosion. With the city and military on edge, an armed soldier pointed his gun at the pregnant woman’s bulging stomach, terrified that she was hiding a bomb. Frightened and in pain, forced to make her way on foot, Homeira walked through the blood and wreckage to reach the hospital doors, propelled by the love she held for her soon-to-be-born child. But the joy of her beautiful son’s birth was soon overshadowed by other dangers that would threaten her life.
No ordinary Afghan woman, Homeira refused to cower under the strictures of a misogynistic social order. Defying the law, she risked her freedom to teach children to read and write, and fought for women’s rights in her theocratic and patriarchal society. Shortly after Siawash’s birth, as she was preparing to leave for the United States to participate in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, her husband divorced her, allowing her to leave Afghanistan—but without her beloved son.
Homeira was faced with a heartbreaking choice that would forever haunt her.
Devastating in its power, Dancing in the Mosque is a mother’s searing letter to a son she was forced to leave behind. In telling her story—and that of Afghan women—Homeira challenges you to reconsider the meaning of motherhood, sacrifice, and survival. Her story asks you to consider the lengths you would go to protect yourself, your family, and your dignity.
“How does a girl grow to be a woman in a society that shuts off every opportunity? How does a mother choose between her child and the future, not just her future but that of the women of Afghanistan? Homeira Qaderi answers these impossible questions in her stunning memoir, Dancing in the Mosque—one of the most moving love letters to life itself that you will ever read.” — Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Last Train to London
Dancing in the Mosque is the remarkable true story of great strength, perseverance, and personal sacrifice by a woman selflessly working to advance the rights of women in her homeland of Afghanistan, women and girls who yearn to be free. I so admire Homeira Qaderi’s writing, but even more her courage. I wept when I read the words, “in this land, it is better to be a stone than a girl.” Thank you, Homeira, for telling a story that everyone needs to read. – Deborah Rodriquez, author of New York Times bestseller The Kabul Beauty School and Little Coffee Shop in Kabul