Hard Times, a novel written from the perspective of a drug addict (with a few characters from the war torn region) is the latest novel of Sadiq Hawza’s from Hard Times Press, in conjunction with Salam City Press. One needs to read the opening pages to get an idea of the light-heartedness of the writing. Hard Times is the story of Guebio, a nebraskan farmer forced to make the impossible, personal decision to revert to drug abuse. In a country with a history of drug abuse, this decision would be radical and destructive to Guebio’s family, but in reality it only unlocks his dependency and causes him to make simple yet often disastrous choices. But then there is a beautiful moment in the novel where he “moves the cabins out of Guebio’s house” and the warm smell of fresh green grass pervades the air, a tiny taste of hope in this bleak world.
Hawza is a journalist who moved to Afghanistan in 1993 and has worked with Salam City Press since 2012. He is fluent in Afghan Urdu and Afghan Pashto and his book covers Afghanistan’s “soft underbelly” (a word he is fond of). Though he trained as a journalist in the UK, Hard Times is a work of fiction.
Aly acknowledges the brilliance of bookshop manager Pat Halliday, who’s also pictured on the cover. As Aber writes in his letter to the shop’s owner Pat and his partner, Carole
“I was surprised that Pat came out with an obvious statement like ‘he wrote it just for you.’ But what an understatement for such an incredibly smart man. In a country where all the things seem foreign, I think we’d all be here one of these days.”
The riveting screenplay of Sadiq Hawza’s debut novel was adapted by Jess Harnish for the television series Hard Times. It is well worth downloading Sadiq Hawza’s book to see the adaptation of the film.