The unsteady withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and subsequent fall of Kabul in late 2021 riveted the world. As images were broadcast of desperate Afghans clinging to U.S. rescue planes, attention was drawn to the fate of those left behind, in particular the Afghan men and women who had assisted Americans, Canadians and other Westerners during the decades-long war. A collective desire to help arose among NGOs and everyday citizens who quickly mobilized to provide assistance to those who made it to North America.
The high level of concern and interest in these events suggest there is a strong market for Mashala, a deeply human story of a common Canadian’s compelling call to action to bring one Afghan family to safety. With help from other passionate humanitarians, Spencer Sekyer took on what the world’s most powerful governments would not, risking it all to save his friends.
Mashala is a non-fiction book that unfolds like a compelling thriller and will keep age 13+ readers turning the pages. The audience would include those who were directly involved in Afghanistan during the war period and beyond, including members of the military, and NGOs, as well as educators and women’s rights advocates, the latter drawn to the story of the fate of one progressive Afghan woman.
It has been a generation since the enormous success of Khalid Hosseini’s novels Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which collectively sold 38 million copies worldwide and were the first introduction for many in the Western world to the lives of ordinary Afghans. Mashala seeks to capture that same literary magic. The public has clearly demonstrated the desire to hear compellingly human Afghan stories and the perspective of the Afghan people.
We have the opportunity to set the benchmark and be one of the first of what is sure to be a wave of titles about the exodus of the allied forces from Afghanistan and the moral and humanitarian conundrum that was left in its wake.
As much as we must be aware of the “white savior” narrative, Mashala will reinforce the truth that people like the Safi family and thousands of other Afghans seeking to flee their country cannot escape certain tyranny and certain death without an extensive network of support.

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