An Afghan Journey

PEN PROMOTES white on black




By Roger Willemsen

Translated from German by Stefan Tobler

Published by Haus Publishing, Feb 2007


An Afghan Journey – A few months after 25 years of conflict came to an end in Afghanistan, Roger Willemsen accompanied a friend on her journey home from Kabul to Kunduz, through the legendary steppe to the river Oxus, the boundary of Tadzhikistan. This is a journal of his adventurous travels through an awakening country. Listening to the extraordinary tales of ordinary Afghanis, he witnesses, as the ‘first tourist’, a world until recently closed to the western world.


In a country racked by war and often misunderstood, Roger Willemsen documents life in a tribal Afghanistan, away from the western media spotlight, shedding light on the divisions, unrest, poverty and humanity of a people who have been oppressed by a succession of foreign invaders and state theocracy. He talks of their hopes for freedom, and the difficulties they are yet to encounter.



Roger Willemsen has been an author, foreign correspondent, academic and critic, before becoming a television personality with his own show ‘Willemsens Woche’ in 1991. Since then he has also worked as a documentary filmmaker and producer. He has written several books, including one based on interviews with former inmates of the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay.




Stefan Tobler translates from German and Portuguese. His translations of poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and he has also translated three travel books for Haus Publishing’s Armchair Traveller series. He is also part of the workshop group at the Poetry Translation Centre at SOAS, led by Sarah Maguire, and has been commissioned to translate the Cape  Verdean poet Corsino Fortes for the Centre. His own poems have started to appear in magazines this year. He became a full-time freelance translator in early 2005 and in the same year received a scholarship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to do a MA in Literary Translation at the University  of East Anglia. He hopes to follow this in 2006-2008 with a PhD in translating Amazonian children’s literature with British children.



Roger Willemsen was in conversation with Amanda Hopkinson and Stefan Tobler in the Goethe Institute, 26 Feb, 2007.


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