Beacon Press: The Khaarijee
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The Khaarijee

A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul

Author: J. Malcolm Garcia

A memoir about six orphans, a dog, a Muslim man, and an inexperienced American journalist-thrust together in post-9/11 Afghanistan

Shortly after September 11, J. Malcolm Garcia a self-described middle-aged, middle-of-the-road midwesterner arrived in Afghanistan. A former social worker, he had only recently become a reporter and had never covered a war. As for Afghanistan, he barely knew where it was. But during the next seven years of travel between Kansas City and a post-Taliban Afghanistan, Garcia found an emotional and professional center one that, in spite of other assignments and war reporting, drew him back to the region over and over again. Unlike flyby reporters traveling through the country armed with a sat phone and a ticket for the next flight to Islamabad, Garcia settled into Afghanistan learning its history, meeting its resilient people, occasionally making dreadful faux pas but ultimately forging lifelong connections.

When he first arrived in the country, Garcia met Khalid, a young Afghan he affectionately called Bro, who became his driver, interpreter, and, eventually, his friend. Bro in turn called Garcia the khaarijee the outsider. He told Garcia he wasn’t responsible for his new friend’s life, but at least two times saved it. He instructed Garcia to avoid dogs because they were rabid, then helped him steal a puppy from an organized dog fight. Bro told him to be wary of street children, only to assist him in feeding and educating six homeless, war-orphaned boys. Bro was Sancho Panza to Garcia’s Don Quixote, and together they faced the consequences of war, life without the Taliban, and Afghanistan’s uncertain future.

The Khaarijee tells this story of two strangers, one dog, and six orphans thrust together after 9/11 an intersection of paths that, by all rights, should never have crossed. At a time when Afghanistan is on the brink, Garcia offers a gritty, raw, and unsentimental memoir about friendship, loss, and wanting to make a difference in the midst of a war-torn country, extending The Khaarijee beyond much travel writing and war reportage.
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“J. Malcolm Garcia’s The Khaarijee is a beautifully written book. The intimacy of Garcia’s reflections on life and Afghanistan, combined with his flash-bang prose, gives readers the much-desired, but rarely achieved, sensation of being inside a writer’s head. Garcia’s honesty makes The Khaarijee an irresistible read.” —Nicholas Schmidle, author of To Live or To Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan

The Khaarijee is a moving and surprising account of the endless conflict in Afghanistan. J. Malcolm Garcia has managed something really special: salvaging humor, friendship, and brotherhood from a brutal, war-scarred landscape. This is a great and illuminating read.” —Daniel Alarc‚àövµn, author of Lost City Radio

“Mr. Garcia’s Afghanistan seems nearly next door in this marvelously, modestly potent account, layered with the riddles and bafflement of war, yet ruddy with the author’s own empathy, and rendered in splendid exactitude. I was quite riveted.” —Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived

“J. Malcolm Garcia is a journalist with a poet’s soul. His account of the war in Afghanistan is full of the subtle betrayals and acts of faith that any witness to war must bear. The Khaarijee is full of a sorrowful hope. This is one of the finest accounts of shattered families and lives in a war-torn country and the desire by one individual who hopes beyond hope for nothing more than to save a few lives.” —Matthew Eck, author of The Farther Shore


Review: The Internet Review of Books - February 1, 2010
“There’s no question Garcia is a talented writer…His use of dialogue shows there’s more to journalism than the inverted pyramid, and his tone is so sincere that readers are sure to turn each page with respect.”
Review: PopMatters - December 4, 2009
“The book is interspersed with poignant, artfully-told tales of the Afghans that he meets in his quest for the next article. But The Khaarijee is primarily the accessible, genuine, personal story of how this particular outsider navigates life in a poor, war-torn, and politically volatile country.”
Review: Kirkus Reviews - September 22, 2009
"Timely and compelling, Garcia provides a glimpse beyond the easy headlines.”
Review: Kansas City Star - September 19, 2009
The Khaarijee is heartbreakingly vivid. Kabul no longer seems far away or so easy to ignore.”

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The Khaarijee

ISBN: 978-080700057-1
Publication Date: 9/1/2009
Pages: 248
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $24.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: In stock.