The Texas Tech Department of English has booked Saira Shah for the 2005 Convocation. If you’re within 300 miles of the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock on August 30, you should be there. If it’s not enough that at the age of 21 Shah crawled around on her belly covering the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as a freelance journalist, consider the fact that she followed that up by being a mainstay on the scene of nearly every major (read: bloody) conflict since then, including the Balkans, Algiers, Palestine, Congo, Iraq, Columbia, Northern Ireland and Sudan. Shah is the author of The Storyteller’s Daughter, in which she compares the Afghanistan of her father’s time with the modernday one that is wartorn:
His wild black eyes fix themselves upon me. There is no way I can describe the power of another human being concentrating all his force upon you in utter desperation. It feels as though I am looking into my own tormented soul. My eyes veer away. Behind him is a grass bank. It is full of people, sitting, lying, writhing. Everyone has lost a limb, or is clamping a hand over a bleeding wound. The further I raise my eyes, the further I can see — they stretch beyond the boundaries of this garden, this city, this country, this age. In that instant I understand that normally our senses are scattered, divided. At rare moments we catch a glimpse of what is real; we are the same, we are all connected.