A Door in the Earth


By Amy Waldman

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From the bestselling author of The Submission: A young Afghan-American woman is trapped between her ideals and the complicated truth in this "penetrating" (O, Oprah Magazine), "stealthily suspenseful," (Booklist, starred review), "breathtaking and achingly nuanced" (Kirkus, starred review) novel.

Parveen Shams, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown. When she discovers a bestselling book called Mother Afghanistan, a memoir by humanitarian Gideon Crane that has become a bible for American engagement in the country, she is inspired. Galvanized by Crane's experience, Parveen travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation.

When she arrives, however, Crane's maternity clinic, while grandly equipped, is mostly unstaffed. The villagers do not exhibit the gratitude she expected to receive. And Crane's memoir appears to be littered with mistakes, or outright fabrications. As the reasons for Parveen's pilgrimage crumble beneath her, the U.S. military, also drawn by Crane's book, turns up to pave the solde road to the village, bringing the war in their wake. When a fatal ambush occurs, Parveen must decide whether her loyalties lie with the villagers or the soldiers — and she must determine her own relationship to the truth.

Amy Waldman, who reported from Afghanistan for the New York Times after 9/11, has created a taut, propulsive novel about power, perspective, and idealism, brushing aside the dust of America's longest-standing war to reveal the complicated truths beneath. A Door in the Earth is the rarest of books, one that helps us understand living history through poignant characters and unforgettable storytelling.


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Antimachus was a friend of Paris

Who put the case for war

He opened a door in the earth

And a whole generation entered

—Alice Oswald, Memorial

Part One

Chapter One



AS SOON AS SHE SAW THE ROAD, SHE UNDERSTOOD HOW IT had seduced him. Unmarked and unpaved, it rose up between mauve foothills, then slipped through them. If you were bored, as Gideon Crane had been—by your traveling companion, by the very journey (to where, exactly?) that you'd insisted on undertaking—the mouth of the road would have leaped at you like a spark. You would've ordered the driver, as Crane did, to leave the highway, and when he refused to risk either his truck or his payload of melons to satisfy a foreigner's curiosity about a shit road to nowhere, you too would have climbed from the truck and taken the road by donkey.

Parveen Shams was being carried onto the same turnoff in a white Land Cruiser, which made her admire Crane's grit all the more. She was giddy at retracing his steps, six years after he'd first made this journey. In his memoir—the book that had propelled her here—Crane had written of the "hunger for adventure" that had thrust him onto this road and of his conviction that going deeper into Afghanistan would take him deeper into himself: What we think of as comforts are buffers, ways of not knowing ourselves, not becoming ourselves. I wanted to turn myself inside out, to empty my pockets and so to learn what I contained. At twenty-one—roughly half Crane's age then—Parveen believed herself similarly fashioned. She was traveling to a remote village to join Crane's crusade to save Afghan women from dying in childbirth; she would live with a family there and share its privations. Clearly she was hungry too.

But that self-conception soon jolted against the rocks littering the way. Crane had described the road as a "wretched rutted hell," a condition that felt less romantic beneath the axle than it had sounded on the page. The surface was an obstacle course of pebbles to jog over, boulders to ease around, craters to gingerly traverse. Mud bogs sucked at the wheels as if trying to draw marrow from bone. All of this slowed the car to a walking, lurching pace, and time seemed to slow too. As the minutes crept by, as her apprehension mounted, Parveen began to question her own fortitude. She'd been born in Afghanistan but left at the age of one and hadn't returned until now. She'd lived a sheltered American life—just how sheltered she saw only as its comforts receded. She'd consciously tried not to drink too much tea before they'd set out four hours earlier, but the Land Cruiser's jerks still sent unwelcome tremors through her bladder.

They left the foothills behind. Taking hairpin turns, they wound along a canyon lined with towering cliffs of schist, and amidst the powerful sensation of being constricted by these mountains, Parveen briefly forgot her physical torments But then she noticed that the so-called road had dwindled to nothing more than a one-car-wide dirt lane hewn from the rock face. When she dared to look out the left window, she saw nothing; it was as if they were aloft. In fact, they were inching above a crag that fell steeply to a river below. She gripped the armrest, envisioning the car plummeting off the edge and tumbling down to the water. It was a sullen green, the canyon in gloom even though the day was sunny. Only over the opposite cliff face was there a startling strip of blue sky. She was chilled, hungry, and stiff. Knots ridged her back. As the road twisted, she scanned for signs of the village, but the only evidence of habitation she saw was, high on a pinnacle of rock, a nest.

"How much longer?" she shouted to the driver, Issa.

He didn't respond, nor, by now, did she expect him to. From the time he'd collected her in Kabul, he'd kept music blaring—mostly Bollywood soundtracks to which he sang along in a surprisingly pleasing falsetto—which made him deaf to Parveen's queries. His conversation was saved for her cousin Fawad, a college student who was acting as her chaperone and to whom Issa had offered the front seat. Parveen he treated as a package he was tasked to deliver.

He wasn't what she had expected. Issa was Crane's right hand in Afghanistan. The memoir described him as an impish do-gooder who'd abandoned a career as an antiquities smuggler to help save Afghan mothers. When Crane had sought to build a clinic in the village to which Parveen was now headed, Issa was relentless in his efforts to help, dogged in his negotiations with bureaucrats, bandits, and the Taliban, saying and doing whatever it took to save more women's lives, in part because his own mother had died giving birth to him. As a boy, Crane wrote, Issa had slept with her shawl; as a man, he still dreamed of her touch. Long before Parveen met him, she'd pitied the motherless boy within, though this was too personal a topic to broach. It was odd to know more about someone from a book than from what he chose to share, which was almost nothing.

Instead of puckishness, Issa had inert eyes and a dour mouth; his fertile mustache, black and thick, was by far the liveliest thing on his face. When they met, he'd grunted a greeting, then scanned her clothing—a red tunic as long and loose as a dress, a pair of jeans, and a navy-blue head scarf—as if it were a puzzle he couldn't solve. Eyeing her three suitcases, he'd said, "Village women dress very simply." Men usually responded to, if not her beauty, a sensuality she'd been told she possessed—abundant dark hair, lively dark eyes, a lush mouth. From Issa there wasn't a flicker.

She tried to see if Fawad was as nervous as she was, but she was directly behind him. This was his first trip of any distance from Kabul, and he'd come along reluctantly, at the insistence of his father, Parveen's uncle, having been told that upon depositing Parveen with her village hosts, he could return home right away. He wore a leather jacket, fake designer jeans, and fancy loafers, a getup she found faintly amusing for a trip to rural Afghanistan. He'd texted compulsively for a time after they left Kabul but had now given up. The mountains had swallowed the signal.

Just then, as if the sun had breached a dam, light flooded the canyon, painting the river emerald and turning the strip of sky fiery orange and violent pink. A pair of birds crossed their path and flew along the canyon, their shadows trailing in the warm yellow light on the opposing cliff wall. Parveen, her vision aflame, was alarmed, for the lowering sun meant they might not reach the village before dark.

As quickly as it had come, the color was gone. Twilight seeped in, its violet-blue ethereal, elusive, and soon snuffed by night. She'd never seen darkness so thick or a driver so tense. The Land Cruiser's headlights barely pierced the night. Issa switched off the music, although her ears continued ringing with it. He was gripping the steering wheel, and in the dim glow of the dials, his knuckles looked slug-white. He and Fawad weren't talking, and the silence scared her.

The river, the whole world outside the car, had vanished. The road, what she could glean of it in the headlights, narrowed further. Their pace slowed. She felt both terrified and stupid to have taken such a risk with her life, and yet contemplating the possibility of her death made her feel thrillingly alive. She checked her watch, its light flashing in the blackness. It was twenty-five kilometers from the highway to the village, according to Issa, but they'd been traveling for more than two hours with no markers of distance, no road signs of any kind. She'd begun to doubt the very existence of the village when a white building flared in the headlights and disappeared.

"Dr. Gideon's clinic," Issa barked.

"Fereshta's clinic," she reminded him with some force, twisting back to look for what she could no longer see. Gideon Crane was adamant in his memoir that the clinic he built be named for Fereshta, the woman whose death had inspired its creation. Issa was one of Crane's top lieutenants—he had to know that. "It didn't look open," she said. In her imagination, the clinic had been brightly lit and bustling twenty-four hours a day. A beacon. Not that still, sealed building with the darkness closing in.

Before Issa could answer, they were in the village bazaar, the headlights' beams poking at empty stalls. He yanked the gearshift into park, gave thanks to Allah, high-fived Fawad, and said they would walk from there. But first he disappeared into the darkness and left her and Fawad to listen to the sound of him urinating.

Upon his return, he handed Parveen a flashlight and her small suitcase, gave a heavy one to her cousin, took the other himself, then motioned for them to follow him. She shivered a bit. It was the end of spring—a week into June—but the temperature had dropped as the Land Cruiser had climbed.

After some time Parveen stopped and switched off the flashlight to freeze this moment in her memory. She could hear her watch ticking. Sharp, clean air filled her lungs. Charcoal-dark mountains loomed all around. The three of them seemed to be standing on the lip of a plateau. On the plain below, moonlight skimmed the black surface of the water. Overhead, the sky was webby with stars, arrayed in constellations that hadn't been visible back home. This night world might have been created moments before for all the relation it bore to any version of night she'd ever seen.

Issa and Fawad were waiting. She returned slowly to self-consciousness, to the capacity to be embarrassed, and switched the flashlight back on. They angled up through a maze of lanes flanked by earthen walls, which hid the homes behind them. The flashlight did little more than illuminate Issa's back, the moonlight scarcely brushed their labyrinth, and in the dark every noise resounded: the scrape of dirt beneath feet, the roll of suitcase wheels, the unseen animals rustling in sleep, Parveen's breath. All of the walls looked alike, as did all of the wooden doors in them, including the one at which Issa stopped and pounded.

"Fereshta's house?" she asked.

"Her husband's."

A lantern with legs opened the door, or so it first appeared. Then, to Parveen's growing excitement, the man behind the light took form. This had to be Waheed, the husband Fereshta had left behind. He was so central to Mother Afghanistan, Gideon Crane's memoir, that Parveen felt as if she had summoned a storybook character from word to flesh.

Those words weren't flattering. Crane had called Waheed "a bearded nebbish," depicting him as a nervous, garrulous man bullied by life and unable to step up and save the mother of his children as she lay dying in childbirth. Whether his wife lived or died would be God's will, he'd pronounced. The photograph of Waheed that Parveen had seen most often—the one that seemed to accompany every newspaper story about the clinic Crane had built and was in the memoir too—didn't dispel the impression of weakness. In it the much taller Crane had his arm roped around Waheed, whose eyes were nearly closed.

Waheed greeted Parveen and Fawad as well as Issa, then ushered them in from the path. She couldn't see much of the space inside the wall and perhaps because of that could smell it all the more: the earthy odors of animals and manure, grassy hay, woodsmoke. From behind her came lowing and a sudden hot blast of animal breath. She shrieked, then regretted it, not wanting to remind everyone so quickly that she was an outsider. She sneaked a look behind her. It was a cow. And Issa was laughing.

The small room Waheed led them into once they'd removed their shoes was lit only by a couple of lanterns. Its walls appeared to be adobe, hairy with bits of straw. Its furnishings were negligible—a rug cool underfoot, cushions lining the walls.

Male visitors were received in this room in order to safeguard the purdah of the women in the house. Issa and Fawad sat on the floor and leaned back against the cushions, and Parveen did the same. Waheed unrolled a vinyl tablecloth, and two sons, the younger of whom was missing a hand, brought the food in and set it down before them. Parveen was the only female, although the voices of others drifted in from above. In this borderland between men and women she would live.

Dinner's main course was a platter of rice topped with raisins and carrots. Parveen knew there had to be meat buried inside because she'd grown up in Northern California eating the same dish. Qabuli pilau was a staple of all family gatherings, celebrations and burials alike, the lamb pressure-cooked, the carrots chopped to matchsticks, the raisins sautéed until they plumped, the rice boiled, the sugar, salt, cumin, and broth added…She'd sometimes found the number of steps tedious, but now it was a comfort to recite them in her head. The admixture of past and present was powerful, as if her family there and this family here were part of one clan, sharing an unseen network of roots. Nonetheless, in the interest of protecting her stomach, she steered clear of the hunk of meat once it was unearthed and hoped no one would notice.

During the meal Issa ignored Parveen as he talked to Waheed without cease. She resented his volubility all the more because she couldn't fully understand it. She spoke quite a bit of Dari, and she'd spent two weeks with her relatives in Kabul working to improve it, but she was catching only words and phrases, just as she'd caught intermittent glimpses of vistas on the switchback mountain road. It was because she kept dozing off, she realized with embarrassment, and she was thankful when at last Issa stood, yawned, and petted his mustache, preparing to decamp for the mosque, where he and her cousin would sleep.

"You should put a light bulb in here," Issa instructed Waheed, gesturing around the room where they'd eaten.

"Why, so I can see your ugly face more clearly?"

The quickness of the joke, if it was a joke, raised Waheed in her estimation.

As she bade her cousin farewell—he was driving out with Issa in the morning—tears started to come to her eyes. They hadn't exactly bonded during the trip, and they'd met only two weeks before. But he was her last connection, however attenuated, to her family.

Waheed led her outside, up a set of stairs, and into a room so bright it blinded her. The source, she saw once her eyes adjusted, was a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. It was the contrast—to lantern light, to moonlight—that made it so strident. Before Parveen could get her bearings, women and girls surrounded her, crowding in to plant perfunctory kisses on her cheeks and clasp her hands in theirs, which were callused and bark-dry. She stood back to study them but they closed in again, brushing her with their long dresses.

Was she well? they asked. Was her family well? How was her health? How was her trip? The greetings continued for quite a while, in the customary Afghan fashion. Their names came and went. Their odors—smoke, sweat, meat, oil, breast milk, the smells of cooking and mothering—stayed with her. At five feet five inches, she wasn't tall, but she towered over the group. If she'd grown up on a village diet, she thought, she likely would have been as small.

"We kept the generator running late for you," Waheed broke in, and the women fell silent.

His bluntness wasn't endearing. In contrast to Crane's description of him as overly verbose, Waheed seemed to feel no obligation to say other than what he thought. Under the stark light, she had her first good look at him. Like that of most rural Afghans, his skin was sun-cured and lined. Funny that in the picture with Crane, his eyes were closed, because they were his most striking feature, nearly beautiful, the color of dark amber.

Parveen didn't know if he was intimating that she should offer to pay for the extra fuel. When it came to money, she didn't know what was expected of her beyond the seventy-five-dollar-a-month "contribution" to the family's expenses that Crane's foundation had suggested she make. She didn't want to take advantage of Fereshta's family. Yet she also didn't want the family taking advantage of her.

The children began making long-practiced rearrangements, spreading bedrolls and blankets on the floor, then draping themselves atop them. As composed as artists' models, they waited for sleep.

Parveen asked Waheed if she could see her room.

This was her room, he said. This was everybody's room.

Not hers, she vowed, imagining waking to pungent breath and entangled limbs, and she told Waheed that she'd assumed she would have her own room. "I'd be happier that way," she said, not troubling herself with why he should care for her happiness.

"No one in the village has their own room. We spend our whole lives sharing," he answered.

Later she would learn that they found it strange, sad even, that Westerners chose to sleep alone, even stranger and sadder that they forced their children, from very young ages, to do so. Over Parveen's time in the village, she would come to question this solitary confinement too.

But not yet. "I'll contribute more if I can have my own room," she said just as the generator moaned into silence, cutting the light. "Perhaps the guest room, where we ate?"

Whispers scurried through the dark. Then lanterns were lit and Waheed picked up a bedroll and motioned for her to follow him out the door and down the stairs. She was pleased at her own assertiveness, at its evident success. But instead of taking her back to the guest room, Waheed led her to another chamber, small and stinky. With shouts and kicks, he displaced a goat and some chickens but not their manure, laid the bedroll on the straw, and said that he would see about finding a door in the morning. He left a single lantern behind, and in its glow Parveen shook with anger, convinced that coming here had been a grave mistake. Gideon Crane also had stayed with this family, but he had described them as the most gracious hosts. Maybe he was a better guest. Maybe he'd slept where he was told without complaint.

Someone thumped a pitcher of water down nearby, then all went quiet. She blew out the lantern, and the night pulled tighter. It is not just the inability to breathe that you must fight but the fear of the inability to breathe, Crane had written of his kidnapping from the village, during which a black bag had been pulled over his head. For the panic is as much a threat to you as the bag itself. It was the panic that drew the bag to my nostrils, making me suffocate, making me panic more, until I forced myself to calm down and could breathe again.

She couldn't bear to remove her clothes, grimy as they were from the drive. She crawled onto the bedroll. It still carried the impress of other bodies, and their warmth.

Chapter Two

Spilling Time


IN THE MORNING, PARVEEN DREAMED THAT A CHILD WAS tugging, almost lovingly, on her hair. She awoke to find a goat gnawing on it. The animal seemed nearly as surprised to find a live being at the end of its snack as Parveen was to be snacked on. With a cry she pushed the goat off and chased it out, then crouched against the back wall. Dawn came through the door frame, the light mixing into the darkness like milk into coffee. Coffee. Its absence was the first small sadness of the day.

The goat hovered in the doorway, letting Parveen get a good look at its yellow eyes, large ears, and unsightly teeth. Parveen reached for her phone, already writing the caption—My new roommate—for a Facebook post. Then she remembered that she had no way to post anything. The village had no internet, no computers, no television, no cell service. It is not an easy place for someone used to the comforts of America, Crane had warned in one of his talks. This had only made her want to come more. But now, lacking an audience for her experiences, she felt lost. Unwitnessed. She tapped the screen randomly, then scrolled through photos of her college graduation, which had happened only a few weeks ago, though it already seemed like much longer. But seeing how happy she'd been then just made her more miserable now, and she tossed the phone onto the bedroll.

When the morning light grew strong, she stepped into the compound yard and inventoried its contents: three goats, a few chickens, four cows, a donkey; piles of hay; a vegetable garden; a grapevine; a pomegranate tree; an outhouse; and stacks of dried dung that had been formed into what looked like brown puffy pancakes to be used later as fuel. Between the house and the outhouse hung a line of laundry. The men's pants on it ballooned in the breeze as if they yearned to walk off.

She looked up and nearly fell back, so vertiginous was the shift in scale. The mountains were sharp and precise nearby but softened with distance. They changed colors too, from brown, red, and green to gray and lavender. The farthest were smoky blue and skullcapped with snow. Parveen had flown over these mountains, or maybe others like them, traveling to Kabul from Dubai. Seen from the air they'd been majestic, but viewed from the ground, they unnerved her, and she was thankful when a child descending the stairs broke into her reverie. They stared at each other for a moment, Parveen taking in the girl's scabby face, unbrushed hair, and bright, mildly crossed eyes. Then Parveen smiled, and the girl tore back up the stairs. As her own smile faltered, Parveen resolved to toughen up. She couldn't be wounded by every small slight.

After a few deep breaths, she climbed the wooden steps from the yard to enter the main room. All faces turned to her, and in her anxiety they blurred together. Only the anomalies stood out. The girl she'd just seen at the outhouse appeared to have doubled; she had an identical twin. There was the boy with one hand.

A murmuration of simultaneous questions rose from a half dozen mouths: How did you sleep? What news came in your dreams? Did the goats keep you warm? Did the sun wake you up? Would you like an egg? Do you know how to make bread? Will you bathe? Can you cook?

Tracking who was saying what felt like trying to untangle the string of a kite in motion. Parveen wasn't sure whether she was even meant to answer. She'd forgotten most of the names provided to her the previous night, except for one, maybe because the face it was coupled with was hard to forget.

Bina was the wife Waheed had taken a year after Fereshta's death. She was also Fereshta's younger sister and therefore both aunt and stepmother to the six children Fereshta had left behind. Issa, who'd told Parveen about this development, argued that this was a good thing, to have the children raised by Fereshta's sister. Bina's sallow skin and hooded eyes, however, suggested that it might not be good for her. Her mouth rested in a perpetual quarter-snarl, as if she wanted to bite the world before it bit her. Even if involuntary, this defiant expression saved her from looking completely defeated. Her age was indeterminate, though Parveen guessed her to be in her early twenties, about Parveen's own age, which was likely the only thing they had in common. A baby nestled in a shawl wrapped around Bina; to her skirt clung a toddler and a little boy perhaps four years old.

Seeing these children, Parveen felt a sharp longing for her nephew, who was a year old. Ansar had been the hardest family member for her to leave. There was nothing complicated in her relationship with him; it was a pure love, a very physical love. She never tired of his fat rolls or long eyelashes or baby teeth, of cuddling him and making him laugh.

These babies, scrawnier and dustier, didn't have the same effect on her. Bina confirmed they were hers. Adding them to Fereshta's, she was now mother to nine. She seemed to be breastfeeding and hand-feeding and wiping all at once. She made a point of saying she'd been up for hours; she'd risen before dawn to light the fire for tea, knead the dough for bread, and do a half a dozen other tasks before anyone else woke.

God, you must be tired, Parveen wanted to say. Instead she said: "You must miss Fereshta so much."

The words were met with silence, as if Parveen had tossed a ball that neither Bina nor anyone else reached out to catch. It was a presumptuous way to begin their acquaintance, and Parveen regretted it immediately, but for her, and for the millions of others who had read about Bina's sister in Crane's book, Fereshta's passing was fresh, her memory vivid. Parveen felt as if she'd personally lived the death of a woman she hadn't even known.

The main room was a rectangle, perhaps fifteen by thirty feet, with small high windows. This was the stage for the life of the family, the place where they gathered, ate, slept. By day the bedrolls were stacked in the corner, the only other furnishings being an aluminum trunk, a woodstove, and a cradle suspended from a beam by a rope. Aluminum pots hung on the walls, which were patched in places with a darker shade of mud. The carpet on which Parveen sat was threadbare. A narrow wooden shelf held a small battery-operated radio.


  • "A teeming panoply...layers moving storytelling onto penetrating reportage...Waldman is particularly gifted at giving tangible reality to ethical dilemmas...Few contemporary authors have shown so expertly that well-intentioned intervention can be the most dangerous kind of all."—Lara Feigel, New York Times Book Review
  • "Waldman has crafted a story that doesn't shrink from moral ambiguity and difficult questions."—Joumana Khatib, New York Times
  • "In her illuminating second novel, Waldman unpeels layers of cultural conditioning to explore the American use of 'kind power.'"—BBC
  • "Amy Waldman's penetrating second novel speaks truth to power."—Leigh Haber, O, The Oprah Magazine
  • "Waldman writes about the clash of cultures and ideals with clean-lined grace and quiet eye-level empathy."—Entertainment Weekly
  • "Waldman's characters are fully realized individuals, as morally complex as the choices facing them...Waldman is that rare novelist who writes from both the head and heart, combining high moral seriousness with moments of irony and humor. In A Door in the Earth, she has created a novel as moving as it is provocative."—Elizabeth Toohey, Christian Science Monitor
  • "Waldman delivers a breathtaking and achingly nuanced examination of the grays in a landscape where black and white answers have long been the only currency. A bone-chilling takedown of America's misguided use of soft power."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • "A deeply well-informed, utterly engrossing, mischievously disarming, and stealthily suspenseful tale...Every aspect of this complex and caustic tale of hype and harm is saturated with insight and ruefulness."—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
  • "A Door in the Earth is a deeply chilling, multifaceted examination of not just the situation in Afghanistan but also the more pernicious and complex consequences of awakening the sleeping giant that is America."—Stephenie Harrison, Bookpage (starred review)
  • "Waldman's moral vision, spare and unsparing prose style, and feel for the way history upsets settled lives all make A Door in the Earth one of the essential books of the post-9/11 era."—George Packer, National Book Award winner for The Unwinding
  • "Amy Waldman brings her fierce intelligence and breathtaking descriptive powers to bear in this brilliant, unsentimental novel."—Nell Freudenberger, New York Times bestselling author of Lost and Wanted
  • "Some stories stick with you, becoming like your own memories. When I finished the last page of this book I could've sworn it had all happened to me."—Elliot Ackerman, National Book Award finalist for Dark at the Crossing
  • "Potent...Waldman paints a blistering portrayal of the misguided aspirations and convenient lies that have fed the war in Afghanistan. This is an impressive novel.—Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Oct 6, 2020
Page Count
400 pages
Back Bay Books

Amy Waldman

About the Author

Amy Waldman's first novel, The Submission, won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and an American Book Award and was named a Finalist for the PEN Hemingway Award. It was Entertainment Weekly's #1 Novel for the Year, Esquire's Book of the Year, a New York Times Best Book for 2011, one of NPR's Ten Best Novels of the Year, and a Washington Post Notable Fiction Book. In the UK, it was a Finalist for The Guardian First Book Award and was long-listed for the Orange Prize. Amy was South Asia Bureau Chief for the New York Times and a national correspondent for the Atlantic. She graduated from Yale University and has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and at the American Academy in Berlin. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.

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