Today, I had the pleasure of visiting with Shah Fazli in a live, interactive Facebook interview. This was my first attempt at a live interview, but not so for Shah! He’s interviewed dozens of authors on his Facebook Group: The Interpreter and on his Blog. If you missed out on the live interview, please enjoy reading this transcribed version right here. Feel free to leave questions and comments for Shah.
Tricia Drammeh Welcome, Shah Fazli and all our guests for the LIVE INTERVIEW. First of all, I am very excited for the opportunity to meet with Shah, who is the author of The Interpreter. Shah, it’s wonderful to have you. Would you like to say a few words before we begin?
Shah Fazli Thanks a lot Tricia for hosting this show. And thanks everyone for joining this live interview with us. I am super excited to be a guest of a very nice lady Tricia who was kind enough to offer this opportunity. And I am thrilled to be with all of you for an hour or so. I do know that everyone in this group and everyone who is following us live is very supportive of each other. Please feel free to ask any question from me at the end of this interview, I will be glad to answer them.
Tricia Drammeh Yes, as Shah says, please join in any time with questions or comments.
Shah, can you please tell us a little about yourself for those who might not know you?
Shah Fazli Thanks Tricia, of course, with pleasure. I am Shah, and I was born in a village in Kabul, Afghanistan, which was a few miles away from the center of the Kabul city. The village was called Guldara, which was made of the mountains surrounding it. I grew up in that village playing in the mountains along with my siblings and the other boys from the village. We went to the top of the mountains or we played in the farmlands, climbing the trees. I have six beautiful sisters and three brothers now living in Kabul. I live in Germany. I miss my family every day of my life. But this is life.
Tricia Drammeh Thank you for that introduction. I just finished reading The Interpreter. It was wonderful and very fascinating reading! Can you please tell us about your book and the experiences in your life which led you to write it?
Shah Fazli At a very young age, I left our village and moved to the center of the city, why, because our village was attacked by the Russian forces. Then in the city, we went through the communist regimes coming to power one after the other. Then the Mujahidin and the Taliban. It was during the Taliban that I left Kabul, after experiencing a lot of their cruelties and barbarism in the city. They beat women, they jailed people for not wearing the right clothes, etc. In Europe the only job that attracted me was to work with the forces that went to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. I met so many officers and soldiers and heard so much from them that it led into writing The Interpreter.
Tricia Drammeh I’m sorry for the terrible experiences you had to endure. In your book, I could tell by your writing that you are trying to bring to light the torture the innocent men, women, and children must endure. Can you tell us about Shabir, your main character in The Interpreter?
Shah Fazli Of course, Shabir is the protagonist in the book who is working with the American forces as their interpreter. He was a Karate boy when he lived in Kabul. He was a calm and quiet boy until one day when the Taliban came to their club beating everybody. But when the Taliban started whipping his master, Shabir couldn’t bear it. He breaks one of the Taiban’s nose and tooth, and he ends up in jail. In jail the Taliban commander beats him so much, trying to kill him in a very slow a painful manner. But then his parents pay a ransom to get him out of the jail. When he works in Helmand as an interpreter, he listens to the Taliban chatter over the ICOM. Shabir is shocked to think the Taliban commander there is the same commander who jailed him in Kabul. Is he the same commander?
While we wait for Mr. Fazli to gather his thoughts I thought to add in the description of this poignant story, This novel is the story of an Afghan national working for the US army as an interpreter. The author writes from experience in an original and simple way, highlighting the complexities of the Afghan war through his interpreters.
While the author writes in a free and poetic style, the reader is there in the story experiencing the war, scene by scene. Shabir Khan and Mullah Aslam is well known to the reader as two opposite characters, who also have a personal vendetta.
In this book the reader experiences action, drama and horror facing the foreign forces, the Afghan interpreters and the local Afghans by the Taliban.
Readers can see how the Taliban leader send men to follow interpreters, until they catch one and behead him. The American officers report the men to the Afghan army and police. When the man is captured he confesses that he is a Mullah Aslam’s man and he is responsible for the death of two interpreters.
One night, Shabir goes to visit his fellow interpreter in another camp. One the way back, Shabir and his friend Sami encounter a Taliban check point, where the reader experiences the most horrifying fighting scenes between the Taliban and these two men. In the cover of a stone, Shabir and Sami fire the rest of their bullets and keep one bullet each.
This paragraph sent chills through this reader; This paragraph sent chills through me, to think of the dangerous perils facing the unknown; Come to mountains of Afghanistan and watch my battle with the Taliban for one day, then imagine what I go through every day.
Melanie Dent I haven’t read it yet but I have tremendous respect for Shah and well done Tricia for giving him the chance to talk about his work for a change
Tricia Drammeh It’s excellent, Melanie Dent, I assure you. I just finished reading it. Thanks for joining us.
Shah Fazli Yes, Tricia, as soon as I started working with the NATO forces, I told my colleagues and friends that I would write a book about my experiences with the soldiers, they couldn’t believe it. But then it took me a few years to seriously consider writing it. My first draft was in a total mess, because it was my first novel, and I was writing it in a totally different language to mine. Imagine to have done a few courses in a different language, going through a lot during years of war and bloodshed, and then trying to write in that language is not easy. It took me a few years to complete it. All of my time going into the editing part.
Tricia Drammeh That’s very impressive that you were able to write this in a language that was not your native language and that you were able to turn such a dark experience into a story for others to learn from and enjoy.
Catherine Mahoney As he is gathering his thoughts, I like to add one of his favorite videos music, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q7kv9nuhTB8 for all to listen to
Le Le Maza Le (Full Song) | Wanted | Salman Khan
Shah Fazli Yes, remember at the start of this interview I mentioned about our village and my childhood, the best part of my life, and the best place I have ever seen on earth, my village surrounded with the mountains, where I drank water from its underground water sources, or from its clean rivers, and went up to the mountains to play or ski during the winter. And remember that I said that the Russians attacked and everything ended for me there, I think I was dead there, life never felt the same. My new project is called Running from Life, and it starts from when the Russians attacked our village.
Catherine Mahoney This is an international Facebook Live Interview, how awesome is that, listen to the music, wow
Tricia Drammeh I’d love to read your new book when it’s finished. It sounds fascinating. I’d like to go back to a previous statement you made about writing a book in a language that wasn’t your native language. What is your native language and how many languages do you speak?
Catherine Mahoney Tricia, if I may add a comment, when a reader sees the cover, they are scared but you are bringing the humanity out in this interview and we should read it to understand what violence can do to a town, village and it’s people anywhere in the world and unite to stop the violence.
Tricia Drammeh That’s a very good point. I would also like to point out that for someone who sees the book cover, they might think this is a book that only appeals to those to like to read about war or military. That is not so. This is a book for everyone.
Catherine Mahoney That is exactly the point, it is a human side of what terrorist does to a human and his existence and the struggles one has to face when a refugee, or someone looking for escape from terrorists, and thier distorted view of controlling the masses
Shah Fazli Thank you so much, my native language is Dari. I can speak English and German as well. Dari is a bit sophisticated version of the Persian language. That is how we know it. It’s been the language of the eastern literature for centuries. Lots of poets and writers have left a lot of useful literature behind. Even the poets and writers in India wrote in the Dari language because it’s sweet and the language of literature, like Eqhbal and Bidel who lived in India.
Melanie Dent unchallenged yet dangerous ideals can make monsters of any nation. Look at Hitler and Nazi Germany
Tricia Drammeh Shah, since Catherine and Melanie have been pointing out some of the lessons in your book they find the most valuable, is there anything you’d like to add? Are there any other lessons in this book or values you’d like to instill in the readers?
Catherine Mahoney I know another secret, if Mr. Fazli wants to share his files, he is developing little stories in the back door or under files on other site, https://www.facebook.com/groups/shahsight/ if he like to share them with others. There are there to be enjoy. As Tricia indicates there is alot of human psychology and lessons in this humanistic book about life, trails and how to over come.
Catherine Mahoney trials and to see the world through almost a hostage if they were not skilled enough to leave in time, like Mr. Shah did and them to work for the NATO against the enemies, definitely a life transformation experience.
Shah Fazli Thank you so much, I think apart from the fact that the book teaches a lot of lessons about the war in Afghanistan and the difficulties the locals have to endure, and also to show the real Taliban as they are, it’s also important for the readers to see the sacrifice and difficulties the foreign soldiers have to make and face to bring peace and security in Afghanistan. It also should show and be part of the history of what these brave men and women had to go through to bring stability and fight our common enemy, the Taliban. This shouldn’t be forgotten by anyone in our country or elsewhere.
Tricia Drammeh When we think about our brave troops overseas, I think we sometimes forget about the bravery of those who work alongside the troops at great risk to themselves and their families. Shah and other interpreters should be commended.
Would you like to take a moment to thank your supporters? Family, friends, or people who have helped you in life or on your writing journey?
Shah Fazli First of all I thank most of my writer friends on facebook who have been so much involved and supportive in completing The Interpreter. Most of them showed me my way step by step, even correcting my spelling mistakes, I am so grateful to them. As for my family, I would say I love them all as they have been by my side, especially my youngest sister Massouda who I love more than the whole world. She is never away from my thoughts. She is the source of every motivation in my life, every success that I make she is there with me. I wish you could see her how beautiful she is.
Tricia Drammeh And, Shah, I’d like to thank you for the help you’ve given other authors. You’ve provided a wonderful platform for authors to share their work. It’s greatly appreciated.
Could I ask a couple more questions just so we can get to know you better. Do you have any hobbies and interests you indulge in when you’re not writing?
Shah Fazli Thanks, I don’t see myself a successful full time writer like many other authors, but I love listening to music when I do anything with writing or reading. My hobbies or sports, I can’t live without it. I love swimming, dancing. I am a professional salsa dancer, and I love it when I get the time to dance.
Tricia Drammeh Wow! That’s really good to know. Thanks for sharing that. How about travel? Where’s the most interesting place you’ve been? And, where would you go if you could choose a destination anywhere in the world?
Shah Fazli Back to my village Tricia. I love meeting my friends no matter where they are, anywhere in the world. But if I want to travel, I would love to go back to my village. I can’t afford to think of other places, not financially, and not time wise.
Tricia Drammeh I can understand that, Shah. I hope you can go back to your village some day for a wonderful reunion. You deserve all the peace and happiness in the world. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to speak with you. I appreciate your openness and willingness to talk with us not only about your book, but about your life. Thank you Melanie Dent, Catherine Mahoney, and everyone else who joined us.