A 22-year-old afghan now living in Paris, Latifa grew up in Kabul with war raging outside her window. On her sister’s wedding day, 300 rockets rained down on her city. Still, she and her family lived a bustling if uneasy urban existence: Her father ran an import business, her mother worked in a hospital, and Latifa grew up listening to rock music and dreaming of being a journalist. But the violence of war, from the Soviet invasion to the civil upheavals, was nothing compared with the calculated perversions of the Taliban, which seized control when Latifa was 16.
My Forbidden Face — Growing Up Under the Taliban: A Young Woman’s Story (Talk Miramax, $21.95) tells how she donned a body veil called a chadri and lived ”like [a rat] in a hole” for four years until she and her parents were smuggled to Paris by an Afghan resistance group. Coauthored by Shékéba Hachemi, the book is no literary feat, but it does chronicle one Afghan family’s ”nightmare in broad daylight” with an intimacy you won’t find in newspapers.