When I’m working as an Afghanistan Cultural Consultant on stage productions, people always ask me about Afghanistan related books and movies. This list is inspired by years of reading and writing about Afghanistan and the Islamic world. I also crowd sourced some of the content from my friends and contacts on Facebook.

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 this list, please drop me a note in the comment section of my blog.

Afghanistan Non-Fiction:

  • A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan by Nelofer Pazira

  • Afghanistan by Thomas J. Barfield

  • Afghanistan by Louis Dupree

  • Afghanistan: A Modern History by Angelo Rasanayagam

  • Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present Day by Jonathan Lee

  • Afghantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-1989 by Sir Rodric Braithwaite

  • Another Afghanistan: A Photographic Journey Through The Afghan Spring by Ginna Fleming

  • An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan by Jason Elliot

  • A Woman Among Warlords by Malalai Joya

  • Bleeding Afghanistan by Sonali Kolhatkar

  • Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile III

  • Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll

  • Forbidden Lessons from a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed

  • Games Without Rules by Tamim Ansary

  • Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll

  • Government and Society in Afghanistan by Hasan Kakar

  • I am The Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan by Eliza Griswold

  • In the Graveyard of Empires by Seth Jones

  • Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

  • Mataluna : 151 Afghan Pashto Proverbs by Edward Zellem

  • Modern Afghanistan by Amin Saikal

  • No Good Men Among the Living: America, The Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal

  • Opium Nation by Fariba Nawa

  • Raising My Voice by Malalai Joya

  • Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by William Dalrymple

  • The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

  • The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World by Zalmay Khalilzad

  • The Favored Daughter by Fawzia Koofi

  • The Lovers: Afghanistan's Romeo and Juliet, the True Story of How They Defied Their Families and Escaped an Honor Killing by Rod Nordland

  • The Punishment of Virtue by Sarah Chayes

  • The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village by Anna Badkhen

  • The Wrong Enemy by Carlotta Gall

  • The Silk Roads: A New History of the New World by Peter Frankopan

  • The Wars of Afghanistan by Peter Tomsen

  • The Will to Resist by Dahr Jamail

  • West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary

  • Zoya’s Story by John Follain, Rita Cristofari, and Zoya

  • Zarbul Masalha : 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs by Edward Zellem

Afghanistan - Fiction

  • A Curse on Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi

  • A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

  • And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

  • A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

  • Earth & Ashes by Atiq Rahimi

  • One Half From East by Nadia Hashimi

  • Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

  • Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

  • Silent Trees by Nasir Shansab

  • The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

  • The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  • The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

  • The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi

  • The Secret Sky by Atia Nawabi

  • The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

  • The Widow’s Husband by Tamim Ansary

  • This Shall Be a House of Peace by Phil Halton

  • When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

Children’s Books

  • The Lion Who Saw Himself in The Water by Idries Shah (available in English, Dari and Pashto)

  • The Silly Chicken by Idries Shah (available in English, Dari and Pashto)

  • The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal by Idries Shah (available in English, Dari and Pashto)

  • The Old Woman and The Eagle by Idries Shah (available in English, Dari and Pashto)

  • The Man and the Fox by Idries Shah (available in English, Dari and Pashto)

Short Stories:

  • Kabuliwala by Rabindranath Tagore

  • Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Non-Fiction Books on Islam and Muslim Countries

  • America's Great Game: The CIA'S Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Hugh Wilford

  • A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to Isis by Robert F. Worth

  • Generation M by Shelina Janmohamed

  • Home Fire by Kamilla Samshi

  • In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire by Tom Holland

  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson

  • Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam

  • Muhammad by Karen Armstrong

  • No God But God by Reza Aslan

  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

  • Reading Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi

  • The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam

  • The Golden Legend by Aslam Nadeen

  • The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by Khaled Abou El Fadl

  • The Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World by Mohammed Ayoob

  • The Secret Lives of Young Women who are Transforming the Arab World by Katherine Zoepf

  • The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future by Vali Nasr

  • The Story of the Quran by Ingrid Mattson

  • The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist

  • The Vanished Imam by Fouad Ajami

  • The Wishmaker by Ali Sethi

Fiction Books on Islam and Muslim Countries

  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

  • Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane

  • A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

  • Equal of The Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

  • Habibi by Craig Thompson

  • How to Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

  • Minaret by Leila Aboulela

  • Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

  • My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

  • Secret Son by Laila Lalami

  • The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

  • The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahn

  • The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan

  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

  • The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight

  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith



Afghanistan Films:

  • Charlie Wilson’s War

  • Kandahar

  • Osama

  • The Patience Stone

Muslim Country Films

  • Capharnaum - Lebanon

  • The Color of Paradise - Iran

Documentaries About Afghanistan:

  • Afghanistan By Choice

  • Afghan Cycles

  • Afghan Star

  • Ascending Afghanistan: Women Rising

  • Behind the Taliban Lines

  • Dancing Boys of Afghanistan

  • Frame by Frame

  • Hindu Kush to Thames

  • Love Crimes of Kabul

  • Mission Afghanistan

  • My Kabul, BBC Documentary Series

  • Restrepo

  • The Beauty Academy of Kabul

  • The Last Images of War

  • To Kill a Sparrow

  • What Tomorrow Brings

Photographer's works in Afghanistan:

Gabriela Maj

Joe Hoyt

Zalmai Ahad

Steve McCurry