3-Minute Interview: Tamim Ansary

The 60-year-old Bernal Heights resident grew up in Afghanistan but moved to America at 16. His memoir “West of Kabul, East of New York” is this year’s pick for The City’s “One City, One Book” citywide reading program.

Is this the first time one of your books has been chosen for a citywide reading program? This book was chosen also by Waco, Texas, a few years ago and another small town, Orland, in Illinois, but this is the first time a major city has picked it.

Do you think San Francisco will be a different audience? It’s more the natural audience. The book is my experience of fragmented and jagged identity. People in San Francisco are very familiar with that kind of issue. And, of course, the largest Afghan community outside Afghanistan is in the Bay Area.

What prompted you to write this book? I started writing the book a year or two before 9/11 and I wasn’t writing it with a sense of crisis. I was writing it as an exploration of identity. The more I delved into it, the more … I realized, I’m actually two guys, and I’ve never stopped being that other guy.

When is the last time you returned to Kabul, and how was it different from when you were a child? It was back in 2002. The physical destruction was just shocking. And yet, I feel like there were certain aspects of Afghan culture I remembered really well, and were still there — [such as] a certain kind of serenity that’s very sociable.

3-Minute InterviewBay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Plummeting Bay Area bridge traffic finally levels off

All told, weekday Bay Area traffic volumes are down by half, which has remained consistent from March 23 through this week.

Second deputy at SF Hall of Justice jail tests positive as inmate count shrinks

Doctor says inmate count needs to fall further to mitigate potential outbreak

Breed pushes volunteer opportunities to help isolated seniors as coronavirus spreads

Seniors and those living with disabilities are most susceptible to severe impacts of the coronavirus and are advised to remain home.

Confusion swirls over uneven eviction protections as rent collection begins

Housing advocates warn some type of rental assistance or forgiveness will be necessary

National Guard sets up hospital beds at San Mateo County Event Center

The triage center is intended as backup if COVID-19 cases surge in the coming weeks

Most Read