Sultan: Queens to Kandahar
photo: Masuda Sultan

At 27, Masuda Sultan has, remarkably, earned her memoir rights. In My War at Home, we see her, at 17, languishing in an arranged marriage in Queens and longing "to disappear"; several years later, she is rallying a group of Afghan women in Kandahar to draft a Women's Bill of Rights for the country's prospective constitution. Afghan-born and New York-raised, Sultan has a thing or two to say about events of the past five years, and a rich perspective. She comes to believe that she "made it the United States for a reason"—so that she could "do something."

There's a propulsive quality to Sultan's straightforward writing: You sense the urgency in her mission to convey not only her own story of divided identities and defiant self-discovery, but the myriad stories of those she crosses paths with. When she journeys into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in August 2001, reuniting with her parents' families, and again after 9-11 (with a documentary film crew), we are offered delicate glimpses into a mesh of aching, "abandoned" lives. As an American, Sultan is viewed in Afghanistan at once as an infidel and a possible savior, and she absorbs the intense longings of those she encounters with a certain uneasiness. The discovery that 19 of her family members were killed in a U.S. attack on a village is recorded in a tone of shocked, numb clarity, yet Sultan's response is unhampered by bitterness: She proves herself a coolheaded activist, capable of effecting real change.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >