By Humaira

When I’m working as an Afghanistan Cultural Consultant on stage productions, people always ask me about Afghanistan related books and movies. I’ve curated “My 130 List” of non-fiction and fiction as well as documentaries, films, and photographer relating to Afghanistan and the Islamic world.

So, I invite you to enjoy this list and share with others who might be on the journey of learning about Afghanistan. I have not read all of these books and nor do I promote or endorse any specific writer, film maker or type of message. If you would like to make suggestions of books, films or documentaries to be included in the master, please drop me a note in the comment section of my blog.

Below are some of my favorite books and why they’ve made it on my top picks from the “My One Hundred

From my Non-Fiction bookshelf:


I can’t tell you how often I reference this book and its sister book, Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs in my writing. It’s the only comprehensive book of Afghan proverbs which has been compiled and shared by my friend Edward Zellem an American who fell in love with Afghan sayings. These books have been translated into 17 languages.

Check it out here.


No sane Afghan walks across Afghanistan so you can imagine the reception, Rory Stewart, a British writer (now politician) received during his journey which began in 2002, shortly after the Taliban were deposed and the United States invaded Afghanistan.

Check it out here.


One of the best written and comprehensive books on the history of Afghanistan that has ever been written. If you’re going to read only one book about Afghanistan, this book is for you.

Check it out here.


This is the sequel to Ghost Wars, a book I’ve recommended over and over when people ask me about the current history of Afghanistan. Directorate S is an in-depth study of U.S.’s involvement in Afghanistan, all the cast of the characters that have been involved and the issues plaguing Afghanistan and the United States today.

Check it out here.

And from the Fiction side:


I would say this book is one of writer Khaled Hosseini’s literary works which highlights his talent as a writer and a storyteller of epic proportions. Khaled weaves an intricate carpet of stories starting from the villages of Afghanistan, going through the upper middle class families of Kabul in the 60’s before heading to the islands of Greece and finally finding it’s grounding in California.

Check it out here.


I must admit, I have not read this book but I have great respect for Atiq Rahimi’s prolific writing. I added this to the list of recommendations not only for you but for myself.

Check it out here.


Deborah Rodriguez’s talent as a storyteller shines through every page of this fast-paced and entertaining book. This is a great beach read and of course the fact that the publisher included several of my desert recipes at the end of the book makes me extra attached to it.

Check it out here.

These books are immensely important in giving us a glimpse into Afghan lives, history, and continued turmoil. I’ve been honored to share in some of the experiences of them, such as writing the foreword for Mataluna, interviewing Khaled Hosseini or sharing some of my recipes in The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. By no means is this a complete list as I am a firm believer in Abigail Adams’ quote, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”



Play Synopsis: A Thousand Splendid Suns is the epic story of three generations of Afghan women who are bound together by marriage, family, and a secret past, amid the war-torn streets of modern-day Kabul. Strong-willed Laila, unmarried and pregnant, is forced to marry her older neighbor when her family and home are torn apart. In her new home, she forges an extraordinary and unlikely friendship with Mariam, her husband’s first wife, and together the two women find the hope and strength to raise a new generation.

Adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma
Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini
Original music written and performed by David Coulter
Directed by Carey Perloff

A.C.T.’s Geary Theater in San Francisco

Running dates in A.C.T.: July 17—29

Click here to purchase tickets

Discount code to Save up to 45% on tickets to select performances—use code SUNS2018 when ordering

Special discount codes for ages under 30! Save up to 50% on tickets—use code UNDER30 when ordering. ID required.



Khaled Hosseini created my first cultural consulting gig in 2009. A theater company was staging the first production of his novel The Kite Runner and he wanted the play to feel authentic. Naturally, when a friend and international bestselling author asks me to help, I say, “Yes!” I jumped in and have since consulted on nine stage productions, several scripts and a Hollywood film.

As a Cultural Consultant, my main goal is to bring cultural literacy for authentic portrayal of Afghan people, their customs and the Dari language. I hack away at stereotypes and generalizations, and spend a great deal of time explaining Afghanistan’s history so there is a better understanding of why Afghans pray differently from Saudis, or how Afghans communicate with their body, and how 35 years of war has affected the Afghan people’s mindset. 

In the past three years I've been part of a group of highly talented and visionary team who have worked closely to move the story of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS from pages of a book to an awe inspiring play for stage. This play has resonated with audiences so much that after it's World Premier at A.C.T., over a year ago, the production went to Canada, San Diego and after this two week run  San Francisco it will move on to the Seattle Rep.

I hope you'll be able to see. I've included a special community discount code (SUNS2018) for my readers.

Click here to purchase tickets.