Few have done more than Tamim Ansary to make the San Francisco literary community a community – as opposed to just an assortment of individuals who have writing propensities. My interview with the facilitator of the San Francisco Writers Workshop just went up at Identity Theory.
He has a couple of new works out. One is Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes. Westerners have an idea of history in their heads – this book is designed to help you understand the idea of history that Moslems have.
Also just out is Ansary's novel The Widow's Husband, available for download through scribd.com -- this powerful work is comparable to J. G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, except that you get the point of view of both sides in the conflict.
Ansary's memoir West of Kabul, East of New York was 2008's selection for the San Francisco One City One Book program. All these books will help you better understand what in Destiny Disrupted Ansary calls the "friction generated by two mismatched world histories intersecting," a friction that's sparking fresh conflagrations even as I write.
In 2001, Ansary posted an e-mail about 9/11 that "went viral," and was forwarded around the world. One off-the-cuff prediction he made in this e-mail was that a likely unintended side-effect of a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan would be the radicalization of border areas of Pakistan. Here's a recent essay for Powells.com in which he talks about how that played out, and answers some of the questions I didn't have time to ask him in my interview. And here's Beverly Parayno's interview with Ansary for the Rumpus.