Shadow City

Listen to a sample

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award 2021

Winner of the Tata Literature Live First Book Award for Non-Fiction 2020

One of the first things I was told when I arrived in Kabul was never to walk…

When journalist Taran Khan arrives in Kabul, she uncovers a place that defies her expectations. Her wanderings with other Kabulis reveal a fragile city in a state of flux: stricken by near-constant war, but flickering with the promise of peace; governed by age-old codes but experimenting with new modes of living.

Her walks take her to the unvisited tombs of the dead, and to the land of the living – like the booksellers, archaeologists, film-makers and entrepreneurs who are remaking this 3,000-year-old city. And as NATO troops begin to withdraw from the country, Khan watches the cycle of transformation begin again.

‘A fabulous piece of writing . . . I recommend it unreservedly’ WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

‘A brilliant book’ CHRISTINA LAMB, author of Farewell Kabul

‘Powerfully evocative’ Kapka Kassabova

‘A wonderful journey’ Atiq Rahimi

‘Khan illuminates Kabul’s life-affirming humanity’ TLS

© Taran Khan 2019 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • Shadow City is no conventional travel book. For Khan gives us a Kabul of the imagination: it is the city that was, less the city that is, that fascinates her. Her perambulations represent a form of “bipedal archaeology”, an exercise in exhuming the past and probing the lost… It is easy to cast Kabul as a tragic mess of a metropolis, but Khan illuminates its life-affirming humanity

    Times Literary Supplement
  • Offers a unique on-the-ground view of the city…a refreshing counterpoint to the macho foreign correspondent genre… Khan’s interviews during her walks powerfully evoke the fluctuating mood in a city that is trying to heal itself

    Guardian
  • These stories conjure a magic in the labyrinthine streets and reveal a fragile city in a state of flux, shape-shifting and flickering with the promise of peace

    i
  • Any reader of this book is sure to discover a Kabul so unlike what the media portrays. Taran’s love of her city comes across in her enchanting evocation of a city where so many tragedies echo from across Kabul’s decades of war. On her last walk, she writes: “to leave Kabul was to take it with you.” This is what happened when I finished reading this book, I took Kabul with me

    Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks
  • On the surface, Kabul is a city caught “between the hope of peace and the habit of violence.” The deeper reality, though, is even more complex and layered: like Kabul’s actual lanes, those that map its character “twist and vanish . . . like well-kept secrets.” It is an elusive, illusive place – bood, nabood, now you see it, now you don’t. Taran Khan’s achievement is to have caught it in an affecting and beautifully observed portrait, a word-map that will endure

    Tim Mackintosh-Smith

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get tailored content recommendations, product updates and info on new releases. Your data is your own: we commit to protect your data and respect your privacy.