K A N D A H A R   C O C K N E Y : A  T A L E   O F   T W O   W O R L D S


by James Fergusson

James Fergusson’s moving and remarkable portrait of a singular friendship gives a human face to one of the most tangled and emotive issues of our time.






‘this informative, timely book deserves a wide readership, especially among politicians.’

‘a striking account of the modern day dispossessed...a passionate story’

The Economist
'a moving and intelligent book'

The Independent
'A cracking read...his writing is clear and intimate'.

Sunday Telegraph
'A thoughtful and moving book'.

Literary Review
'a first-class writer...[Fergusson]always notices the right things'

Daily Telegraph
'...richly entertaining, an artful slice of journalism that turns a potentially miserable subject into a penetrating comedy of cultural values.'

Daily Telegraph
'a richly entertaining, artful slice of journalism...a penetrating comedy of cultural values'

Times Literary Supplement
'Tender and entertaining, manages to span some of the great divides of our age.'

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The remarkable and touching story of a singular friendship between the author (an affluent Western correspondent) and his Pashtun interpreter who meet in an Afghan war-zone and resume their friendship when Mir becomes an asylum seeker in London's East End.

In the spring of 1997, James Fergusson, a young freelance British correspondent, encounters a local Pashtun interpreter named Mir in rebel-controlled Afghanistan. They soon become firm friends, with Mir an invaluable guide not only to the battle zone, but to the country's complex politics, culture and traditions.

Not long after James's return home, Mir and his family are forced to flee Afghanistan, fearing for their lives. When Mir arrives in London seeking asylum, it is to James that he turns for help. Now their roles reverse: the guided becomes the guide as James introduces Mir to the bewildering customs of the infidel West. Yet in many ways it is Mir who remains the guide -- this time to a side of his own homeland that James had never noticed or engaged with before.

He discovers whole communities of Afghans scattered throughout London, and the shadow economy in which asylum seekers are forced to work.He accompanies Mir through the labyrinthine asylum system, with its endless round of tribunals, appeals, delays and disappointments; and introduces him to the important things in life like Tesco's, bank holiday weekends and the seaside.

James Fergusson's moving and remarkable portrait of a singular friendship gives a human face to one of the most tangled and emotive issues of our time. Powerfully evoking the no-man's land between the Third and the First Worlds, between Islam and the West, Kandahar Cockney also places a very contemporary story in a greater historical context, showing how surprisingly enduring the legacy of Britain's colonial era really is.

K E N 'S   C H R I S T M A S  P R E S E N T

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  • Author James Fergusson
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers (UK)
  • Year 2005
  • ISBN 9780007156979
  • Format paperback - 288 Pages

B U Y  H E R E




S O M E  A M A Z O N   R E V I E W S

With so much rubbish these days on TV and with so many unreadable books, it's always refreshing to come across something like this one, which is very well written in an articulate and intelligent manner with very good characterization and general description of things (it really is 'like you're there'). Although this book is a recollection of events that really happened, it reads like a novel and if you didn't know the story behind it then that's what you think it is.

With large sections of the media not always particularly favourable towards refugees, it's also an excellent look at the life of one of them and enables you as a reader to see how it can be for them. It should certainly be given to a few politicians and journalists to read. It describes life as a refugee sometimes in a humourous, tongue-in-cheek manner (some great descriptions of culture shock for example) while never losing sight of the deeper issues involved, which makes it all the more readable.

A great book, very sad in parts, but also very uplifting. Helps you understand how hard it must be to be a refugee in England. James is obviously a bit of a dude.