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Mary Smith - Author, Poet and Journalist

Books

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni, Thousands Pass Here Every Day, No More Mulberries

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni provides a remarkable insight into the lives of women in Afghanistan. Despite the hardships in their lives - and there are many - they are not all helpless downtrodden victims but women of courage, determined to make the best of life for themselves and their families. Mary Smith, who worked in Afghanistan for several years, takes readers on a journey from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to the remote mountainous region of Hazara Jat, allowing them to get to know these women and their families.

Reviews:

 “At last, a book about Afghanistan written by someone who not only lived and worked there for several years but who obviously has a deep understanding and fondness for this troubled land and its peoples.”
Eileen Ramsay, Award-winning author

“Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni” is honest and unsentimental, intimate and comical, bringing Afghanistan into focus beyond the headlines and political posturings.”
Robin Yassin-Kassab, Author, journalist, political blogger

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women can be ordered from Amazon here or from Indigo Dreams Publishing here

 

Thousands Pass Here Every Day

The poems in this collection explore wide ranging themes of homeland, identity, family. A strong sense of place is evoked whether that place is Afghanistan where people live with war as a constant backdrop to their lives, or Scotland. Characters such as the forestry worker in Galloway, boys with their flocks of sheep on Afghanistan’s high pastures, freedom fighters, mothers and sons, demonstrate common concerns which connect us all. There is, too, a sense of how landscape shapes identities and creates connections.

Thousands Pass Here Every Day can be ordered from Amazon here or from Indigo Dreams Publishing here

No More Mulberries        

No More Mulberries Mary’s debut novel is now available.

No More Mulberries is set in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan where British-born Miriam finds her relationship with her Afghan husband, Dr Iqbal heading towards crisis.

From the opening chapters the reader is drawn into Miriam’s family life and her circle of friends, joining her in the clinic where she carries out her role of health worker for the women of the village. It is a life in which Miriam is clearly at home; after spending several years in Afghanistan she no longer feels conscious of the impact of what, to the reader, may seem a strange and difficult existence. However, the problems in her marriage – its silences and evasions – unsettle Miriam’s equilibrium.

When asked by her boss to attend, as translator, a teaching camp for Afghan paramedics and foreign doctors she goes despite Dr Iqbal’s opposition. While there, a friend from her past arrives, urging her to visit his village and the place where she worked some years earlier.
 
Miriam, hoping to understand the reasons behind the conflict in her marriage, makes a journey into her past to confront the devastating loss of her first husband. Gradually she comes to realise how her own actions and attitudes have contributed towards damaging her relationship with Iqbal, and also with her son.
 
Although the story is told principally from Miriam’s point of view, it is also Iqbal’s story. He, too, has suppressed insecurities – about his own losses, about how the leprosy he contracted as a child continues to impact on his life, and about the cultural restrictions he despises yet unwittingly reinforces.

No More Mulberries is about commitment and divided loyalties. It is also a story of love, isolation, coping and learning to live with loss and grief, all of which are further exacerbated by cultural differences, and all set against the shadow of a country moving through the transition from earlier conflict to the new Taliban threat.

Read an extract ...

Available on Amazon here, also available from Waterstones, W H Smith and other bookshops.

 

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Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni book cover

“Mary Smith’s book gets
behind the news bulletins and shows what it is really like to
be a woman in Afghanistan.”

Margaret Elphinstone
Author, ‘The Gathering Night’

 

Thousands Pass Here Every Day front cover

'Mary Smith's poems are trim and supple. They have to be because their missions cover many landscapes - from the wilds of South West Scotland to the dramatic - and peopled - landscapes of Afghanistan...'

Tom Pow

 

No More Mulberries bookcover

'Her characters are complex with layered pasts (Iqbal's leprosy and the metaphorical and physical scars it has left behind - Miriam's lives in Scotland and with her previous husband) and uncertain futures...

A lovely book which calls for attention.'

Janice Galloway