Photo: Martha Pavlidou

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A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story
416 pages; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
If you read only one book this summer, make it this one. It's an astonishing tale of religious barbarians and human hope, of what happened to Kabul before and after the Taliban came to power. A boy and his father survive being bitten nearly to death, not by a rabid dog but by a torturer.
— Jeanette Winterson