September 19, 2001
3:21 PM   Subscribe

Holt Magazine is featuring an interview and some background on Tamin Ansary, the person who penned the Letter from an Afghani American. Isn't it incredible how the internet can empower a lowly school book writer's voice and broadcast it to the world?
posted by mathowie (15 comments total)
Matt, thanks for the link and more info on this new net celeb. I just received his letter on my e-mail at work, though I had seen it here a couple days ago. But, what do you mean by "lowly" school book writer. That doesn't sound right to me.

From the interview: "Tamim is an Afghan American (one parent from each country) who was born and raised in Afghanistan until the age of 16, when he moved to Portland, Oregon. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1976, writing books for school publishers such as Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, Heinemann and Houghton Mifflin. By now he's written about 75 books, many of them about American history."

Sounds pretty impressive to me. Anything connected to education is not lowly. I hope you use your editing skills to remove that word.
posted by msacheson at 3:36 PM on September 19, 2001

jeez msacheson, I meant "lowly" in the sense of one guy's voice being broadcast among a good deal of the US' population. How else would anyone ever have heard of this person? He's just a guy that wrote an email from his apartment in San Francisco, and suddenly he's on Charlie Rose and in everyone's inbox. How amazing is that?

For what it's worth, I often describe myself as a "lowly designer/programmer" and never considered it a horrible putdown, but a mildly self-deprecating label. Calm down, I have the utmost respect for the guy, and didn't intend to make him sound like a complete nobody. The second definition for lowly states "in a meek or humble manner" as in "some guy writes a letter, and by its own merit, it travels around the world in front of millions of eyeballs." Sounds like a humble beginning to me.
posted by mathowie at 3:51 PM on September 19, 2001

cool link Matt, thanks
posted by redhead at 4:02 PM on September 19, 2001

I can definitely vouch for that email flying around the net -- I've received it four times in the past week, in addition to reading it here and on scripting news.

It's one of the first pieces of forwarded email that I'm glad to see making the rounds.
posted by kaefer at 4:03 PM on September 19, 2001

Okay, that's cool. One drawback to text-based communication is the intended nuance, and mine was probably stronger than I meant. Besides, I don't mean to insult our humble host, for fear of being user-deleted :-).

Anyway, back on topic, it is amazing how he's been heard because of the connected world of the internet. Good for him, and good for us to be introduced to him.
posted by msacheson at 4:04 PM on September 19, 2001

don't forget Lowly the Worm.

That guy kicks ass.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:05 PM on September 19, 2001

Last night he was on PBS' Moyers in Conversation: America Responds program, hosted by Bill Moyers. Unfortunately I missed the broadcast.
posted by tamim at 4:57 PM on September 19, 2001

In case you're in San Francisco, Tamim (along with a few other writers from our workshop) will be reading from his latest novel next Friday, September 28th. The reading is at Meridian Gallery - 545 Sutter St, 2nd floor, (bet. Powell and Mason.) The reading is a benefit for the gallery, which generously gives us space to hold our workshop each week - the cost is on a sliding scale: $5-10.
posted by badstone at 5:21 PM on September 19, 2001

My mother was an elementary school teacher, and I was exposed to a lot of books at an early age. It's people like Tamim who fueled my desire to learn and be filled with wonder about the curiosities of the world around me.

I had heard that the writer of the Letter from an Afghani American was a writer of books, and I checked Amazon to see what types of things he had written. I was surprised when I saw 62 books returned from my search query of his name. Surprised because he was so prolific, and because I hadn't heard of him before.

When I saw that a large number of his books were penned for young students, it brought a smile to my face. Tamim's been teaching us for a while. His Letter is another lesson that we should be thankful for, among the many others he has written.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:52 PM on September 19, 2001

the letter was the most meaningful thing i've read of all the forwarded junks. it totally changed my perspective of the impending war against Afghanistan.
posted by arrowhead at 6:05 PM on September 19, 2001

Let a thousand Tamins bloom.

We could use more independent voices speaking articulately, with passion, against reflexively launching a massive attack. People to help educate us on the realities of a place and a people that, two weeks ago, we didn't give a camel puck about.

Lordy knows the mass media isn't providing them. I've been avoiding TV mostly these past days, but has anyone heard a mass media figure argue restraint and careful deliberation as job No. 1?

As noted elsewhere, the only one I've seen was Conan O'Brien interviewing Steve Kroft last night.
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:25 PM on September 19, 2001

He is right. The Taleban have some 10 plus training camps in his native country so since the country is already inb bad shape we ought to let Bin Laden alone and let the country grow and prosper. Same might be said for Iraq. They too have many problems and just because they might be funding the Taleban via Ben Laden we ought to leave them alone. In fact, leave everyone alone. Remember when Dick Nixon said NY ought to be allowed to drift into the Atlantic, so great was his dislike of that city? Leave the city alone too.
Now what do we do next? Olympics , Marathon, beauty pageant?
posted by Postroad at 8:12 PM on September 19, 2001

He was just interviewed this evening on local news radio station here in Portland. As the Holt mag profile states his first home in the US was here in Oregon. He is as thoughtful and insightful live as in his email essay. Be on the look out for more from him in the near future.
posted by tdstone at 8:24 PM on September 19, 2001

Dang, Postroad, you're simply oozing with sarcasm here. I respect your opinion, but I think you've completely misconstrued Tamim's argument. He never suggests that we "let bin Laden alone," as you say, but rather that any strategy for getting to him, his network, and the Taliban, will have to be far more complex than just saturation bombing or a missile barrage. A simplistic, indiscriminate strategy will serve no purpose, he argues, except to kill all the people too busy trying to stay alive from day to day to be interested in things like flying planes into buildings or some ideological battle between Islam and the West. And even if you have no problem with collateral damage (now there's an antiseptic expression), you're still left with the problem of how to get the bad guys, because they'll be the only ones left alive after we've bombed Afghanistan back to the Mesozoic Period.
posted by Bixby23 at 8:49 PM on September 19, 2001

If it's the same guy, he also pens a very engaging column for
posted by Vidiot at 2:05 PM on September 20, 2001

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