Tamim Ansary - 2004

Afghan-American author of "West of Kabul, East of New York"

November 16, 2004

Mr. Ansary discussed his work and the ongoing cultural and political struggles between the West and the East.


Author of the critically acclaimed memoir West of Kabul, East of New York and 38 nonfiction books for children, Mir Tamim Ansary has lived a life in two worlds. The day after 9/11, he wrote a private e-mail to 20 friends analyzing the event from his perspective as an Afghan American. It spread through the Internet to millions of people worldwide within a week, becoming the most widely circulated email of its kind at the time.

Born and raised in Afghanistan, the son of an Afghan father and American mother, Ansary grew up in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. In 1964 at the age of 16, he received a scholarship to an American high school and moved to the United States. Six years later, he graduated with honors from Reed College.

In 1980, Ansary traveled through North Africa and Turkey to explore Islam and found Islamism instead. It took him 14 years of working as a textbook editor for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich to recover from the shock. After 9/11, he hit the road again, this time to visit Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and to make a journey to Kabul.

A regular columnist for Microsoft's learning site Encarta.com, Ansary has also written a literary memoir, several novels for "reluctant readers" and a series of educational comic books called "Adventures Plus."