Young people living in Afghanistan under the Taliban try to escape by joining a cricket team.
"We had been an exuberant people," reminisces Rukhsana, the young female protagonist of Timeri N. Murari's "The Taliban Cricket Club." "Loquacious, generous with our smiles and laughter, we had been gossipers and raconteurs, but now we spoke in whispers. ... A soot of despair had settled on our souls and we could not scrub it off."
The year is 2000 and the Taliban lord over the city with a ferocity that cows even the bravest of Afghans. Then, to the surprise of just about everybody, the Taliban announce a cricket tournament where the winning team will be flown to neighboring Pakistan for further training. For Rukhsana's brother and cousins, as well as Rukhsana herself, it may be their only chance at escaping the hopelessness of their lives in Kabul.
Inspired by true events, Murari takes a captivating headline and infuses it with all of the makings of a rousing romance in the traditional sense of the word: There are star-crossed lovers, an incurable illness, life-or-death decisions, broken promises, and even an evil warlord.
In "The Taliban Cricket Club," Murari writes with an utmost respect for the Afghani people with the eye of a filmmaker, making this one of the smartest page-turners to hit the shelves this summer.