HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Fariba Nawa

Award-Winning Afghan-American Journalist and Author of Opium Nation


  • Afghanistan, Pakistan & Iran: The Drug Trade
  • U.S. Policy in Islamic Countries
  • War Profiteering: How American Companies Steal Taxpayers' Money for Shoddy Work in War Zones
  • Human Rights in Iran, Afghanistan & Pakistan
  • Overcoming Refugee Life In America
  • Growing Up the Child of an Alcoholic
  • Fighting Misogyny in an Immigrant Community in the U.S.
  • The Life of a Foreign Correspondent
  • Foraying Into Freelance Journalism



Award-winning Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa fled Afghanistan with her family when she was just nine years-old in order to escape the Soviet invasion. Nawa settled in the United States and did not return to her homeland until 2000, nearly two decades later. What she saw when she arrived shocked and saddened her, and inspired her to write Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman's Journey through Afghanistan (Harper Perennial). The book, part memoir, part heartbreaking expose, is a staggering account of Afghanistan's billion-dollar drug trade. The book was a finalist in the 2012 PEN literary awards. She has had guest appearances on NPR, the BBC, MTV, NBC, and CBS's 48 Hours and routinely speaks on Middle East and South Asian issues. She is the perfect speaker for events at universities, political councils, and world affairs organizations.

Nawa is also the author of the groundbreaking report Afghanistan, Inc., and a contributing writer in the anthology Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands. With a master's in Middle Eastern studies and journalism, Nawa has traveled extensively and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Germany. She witnessed the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and al Qaeda while living in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2007. Her works have appeared in the Sunday Times of London, Foreign Affairs, The Daily Beast, Newsday, Mother Jones, The Village Voice, and The Christian Science Monitor. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Praise for Opium Wars:

"Insightful and informative. . . . Fariba Nawa weaves her personal story of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engaging narrative that chronicles Afghanistan's dangerous descent into opium trafficking . . . [and] how the drug trade has damaged the lives of ordinary Afghan people." -- Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

"Opium Nation brings much needed depth and complexity to any conversation involving Afghanistan and its future. Fariba Nawa writes with the detailed eye of a journalist, the warmth of a proud Afghan and the nuanced perspective of someone effortlessly straddling the East and the West. This book is a chance for readers to see Afghanistan and its people far beyond the coverage of the evening news." -- Firoozeh Dumas, author of Laughing without an Accent and Funny in Farsi

"Journalists, policy makers, and scholars have written on the Afghan drug trade, but no one has shown its human drama and toll like Fariba Nawa. She takes us inside the families of a country shattered by war, surviving only by risking their lives -- and daughters -- for a criminal enterprise feeding the addictions of foreigners. Nawa offers a unique view of the human side of this conflict in which we are so deeply engaged." -- Barnett R. Rubin, author of The Fragmentation of Afghanistan

"Nawa deftly sketches the geopolitical nightmare that is today's Afghanistan, but the book's real strength is her detailed, sensitive reporting of individual people's stories." -- Boston Globe

"Nawa ably captures the tragic complexity of Afghan society and the sheer difficulty of life there. . . . Her assured narrative clearly stems from in-depth reporting in a risk-laden environment." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Powerful. . . . Nawa draws rich, complex portraits of subjects on both sides of the law . . . Nawa's work is remarkable for its depth, honesty, and commitment to recording women's stories, even when it means putting her own safety at risk. She writes with passion about the history of her volatile homeland and with cautious optimism about its future." -- Publishers Weekly