Nadia Hashimi is the Afghan-American author of breakout novel The Pearl that Broke Its Shell and When The Moon is Low. Hashimi has two forthcoming novels in 2016; A House Without Windows (William Morrow), the story of an unlikely sisterhood—an emotionally powerful and haunting story of friendship that illuminates the plight of women in traditional culture, and her exciting first young adult novel One Half from the East (HarperCollins) addressing gender equality and the empowerment of young women for a middle grade audience.
In her literary debut, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell (William Morrow), Hashimi tells a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See. In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters. But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way. Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies.
Hashimi’s second novel, When the Moon Is Low (William Morrow), is hailed by O, the Oprah Magazine as “A must-read saga about borders, barriers, and the resolve of one courageous mother fighting to cross over.” Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power. Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family. Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.
She was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. Her mother, granddaughter of a notable Afghan poet, traveled to Europe to obtain a Master’s degree in civil engineering and her father came to the United States, where he worked hard to fulfill his American dream and build a new, brighter life for his immediate and extended family. Hashimi was fortunate to be surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins, keeping the Afghan culture an integral part of their daily lives.
Hashimi attended Brandeis University where she obtained degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Biology. In 2002, she made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents who had not returned to their homeland since leaving in the 1970s. It was a bittersweet experience for everyone, finding relics of childhood homes and reuniting with loved ones.
Hashimi enrolled in medical school in Brooklyn and became active with an Afghan-American community organization that promoted cultural events and awareness, especially in the dark days after 9/11. She graduated from medical school and went on to complete her pediatric training at NYU/Bellevue hospitals in New York City. On completing her training, she moved to Maryland with her husband where she works as a pediatrician. She’s also a part of the “Lady Docs,” a group of local female physicians who exercise, eat and blog together.
With her rigorous medical training completed, Hashimi turned to her passion for writing that had gone unexplored. Her upbringing, experiences and love for reading came together in the form of stories based in the country of her parents and grandparents (some even make guest appearances in her tales!).
Hashimi now lives in Maryland. She and her husband are the beaming parents of four curious, rock star children, two goldfish and a territorial African Grey parrot.
Praise for Nadia Hashimi:
“Nadia is an exceptional and engaging speaker that can take your event to the next level. Our 400 guests at Wine and Words 2015 thoroughly enjoyed her. Nadia brings a unique voice to any author event with her knowledge of Afghanistan and the culture of the people.”
--Sheila DeChantal, President of the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library and Reviewer for Book Journey.net
"As an author, Nadia Hashimi breaks your heart and then breathes hope back into you through her vivid characters. As a speaker, she does the same through her compelling and passionate discussions of Afghan social and political culture. Nadia approaches gender, history, literature and politics from multiple points of intersection, creating a multifaceted map of understanding for her audience that can inspire laughter and tears within the same sentence. At our annual black tie event, Nadia captivated a standing-room only crowd with a discussion of her work and the role of immigrants, women, and children in Afghan society, and we received nothing but praise from our guests for hosting such an inspiring and powerful speaker. We were honored to host Nadia as our 2017 Keynote Author, and she has my highest recommendation as a speaker.
--Allison Jessing, Events Manager, Howard County Library System"
"Nadia Hashimi’s lecture about the plight of women in Afghanistan and the refugee situation worldwide generated a great deal of interest in our Pikesville Library community. Indeed, 91 people attended—one of our largest audiences this year for the Pikesville Speaker Series. The audience was deeply engaged with the topic and the lively Q&A afterwards was a testament to the timeliness of the discussion and Nadia’s mastery of her material. The excellent PowerPoint presentation helped to illuminate the subject and focus the conversation. We are greatly appreciative that writers and thinkers of Nadia’s stature are willing to bring their voice to our community and widen our perspective."
--Ruth Goldstein, Pikesville Speaker Series
"Nadia is one of the most down to earth and engaging authors we have had at the library. Not only are her books timely and readable, she does a wonderful job of drawing in an audience and relating her background and personal writing journey. We would have her back again and again!”
--Bethany Hacker, Harford County Public Library, Just.Write Writers Conference
Praise for The Pearl that Broke Its Shell:
“Nadia Hashimi has written, first and foremost, a tender and beautiful family story. Her always engaging multigenerational tale is a portrait of Afghanistan in all of its perplexing, enigmatic glory, and a mirror into the still ongoing struggles of Afghan women.”
--Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner
“Hashimi weaves together two equally engrossing stories in her epic, spellbinding debut.”
--Booklist (starred review)
“A fascinating look at the unspoken lives of Afghani women, separated by generations and miles, yet achingly similar. This is a story to transport you and make you think.”
--Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Daughter
Praise for When the Moon Is Low:
“Expertly depicting the anxiety and excitement that accompanies a new life, Hashimi’s gripping page-turner is perfect for book clubs.”
-- Library Journal (starred review)