December 2020 Indie Next List
“This was a very touching, unique read. It’s incredible that this story is true, and reading it reminded me of how vastly different my life is from those of women raised in Afghanistan. I feel so privileged to have been given such a great education and to have been allowed and encouraged to educate myself. I am very appreciative of Homeira Qaderi for having the courage and motivation to persist in publishing her work so that we may be graced with it. Very inspiring.”
— Allie Blake, BookPeople, Austin, TX
A People Book of the Week & a Kirkus Best Nonfiction of the Year
An exquisite and inspiring memoir about one mother’s unimaginable choice in the face of oppression and abuse in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
In the days before Homeira Qaderi gave birth to her son, Siawash, the road to the hospital in Kabul would often be barricaded because of the frequent suicide explosions. With the city and the military on edge, it was not uncommon for an armed soldier to point his gun at the pregnant woman’s bulging stomach, terrified that she was hiding a bomb. Frightened and in pain, she was once forced to make her way on foot. Propelled by the love she held for her soon-to-be-born child, Homeira walked through blood and wreckage to reach the hospital doors. But the joy of her beautiful son’s birth was soon overshadowed by other dangers that would threaten her life.
No ordinary Afghan woman, Homeira refused to cower under the strictures of a misogynistic social order. Defying the law, she risked her freedom to teach children reading and writing and fought for women’s rights in her theocratic and patriarchal society.
Devastating in its power, Dancing in the Mosque is a mother’s searing letter to a son she was forced to leave behind. In telling her story—and that of Afghan women—Homeira challenges you to reconsider the meaning of motherhood, sacrifice, and survival. Her story asks you to consider the lengths you would go to protect yourself, your family, and your dignity.
About the Author
Dr. Homeira Qaderi is a women’s rights activist originally from Afghanistan. She has published six books in Afghanistan and Iran, some of which have received prestigious awards. Dancing in the Mosque is her first book in English.
“How does a girl grow to be a woman in a society that shuts off every opportunity? How does a mother choose between her child and the future, not just her future but that of the women of Afghanistan? Homeira Qaderi answers these impossible questions in her stunning memoir, Dancing in the Mosque—one of the most moving love letters to life itself that you will ever read.”
— Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Last Train to London
"A stunning reminder that stories and words are what sustain us, even—and perhaps especially—under the most frightening circumstances."
— New York Times
"An unvarnished, memorable portrayal of a mother’s grief and love."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Best of the year 2020, Nonfiction
"A heartrending, indelible tale."
“Dancing in the Mosque is a remarkable story of great strength, perseverance, and personal sacrifice by a woman selflessly working to advance the rights of women in her homeland of Afghanistan, women and girls who yearn to be free. I so admire Homeira Qaderi's writing, but even more her courage. I wept when I read the words, " in this land, it is better to be a stone than a girl." Thank you, Homeira, for telling a story that everyone needs to read."
— Deborah Rodriquez, author of New York Times bestseller The Kabul Beauty School and Little Coffee Shop in Kabul
“A modern-day Sophie's Choice, this memoir about a mother's love for her child and country is heartbreaking, but also triumphantly hopeful and inspiring. Thank God for courageous women like Homeira Qaderi.”
— Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Secrets Between Us
“'God never answers the prayers of girls,' the Afghan writer Homeira Qaderi was told when the Taliban invaded her native city of Herat. But her new book, Dancing in the Mosque, is a kind of answered prayer born of her courage, indomitable will, and storytelling gifts. In this remarkable blend of memoir and anguished letter in exile to a son she cannot see, Qaderi reminds us that the pen is mightier than the sword, especially when it is in the hands of a writer who invites her readers to dance in the mosque."
— Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood