The Book of Trouble: A Romance

Ann Marlowe

Harcourt,  February 2006

A sexy, intimate, and fearless account of a shattering love affair between a charismatic Afghan man and a Jewish American woman infatuated with his culture, The Book of Trouble is also a provocative and original exploration of a so-called clash of civilizations. Marlowe's vivid, gritty evocation of daily life in Afghanistan brings to life a luminous place she thinks of as "the morning of the world." She finds a similar rediscovery of feeling when she is in bed with Amir -- "the gift of loving someone, which is incalculable" but also, ultimately, a "terrible gap between hearts."

Marlowe finds complexity and beauty in Afghanistan, not the caricature of evil men and oppressed women. In fact, she found much that Americans can learn from in the warmth, tenderness, and respect of Afghan family life and marriage. As Marlowe travels from Mazar-i-Sherif to her sophisticated, cynical New York world and then to Baghdad in the aftermath of the American invasion, she makes perhaps her most provocative claim: That we Americans, for all our self-help books, have forgotten how to take love and sex seriously.

A candid, wrenching love letter to the world of feelings we have lost, The Book of Trouble is unique and unforgettable.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780151011315 | Publication Date: February 2006

"You won't soon forget The Book of Trouble. Ann Marlowe tells a crushing love story, and somehow also manages to weave in exotic tales of travel and fascinating tangents about everything from cousin marriage to fake Arabic."
--James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard

"Ann Marlowe has a sense of adventure and style and a startling intelligence that make The Book of Trouble a must-read. Whether she's writing about Iraq, Afghanistan, or the West Village, and whether you agree with her conclusions or not, her opinions are always fresh, nuanced, and thoroughly her own."
--Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook

"The Book of Trouble is about a difficult love affair across an age and cultural divide, but it transcends its circumstances to become an eloquent meditation on marriage, freedom, religion, and gender. Ann Marlowe feels a lot, but her feelings are always nuanced and contradictory; her book is an unusually rich reading of her emotional and intellectual conflicts."
--Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story

"A brilliant, cool-eyed wonder that brought me into Marlowe's passions and then broke my heart. In the process I was brought to a deeper, personal understanding of so many things -- which is what we need from a work of art."
--Samantha Dunn, author of Faith in Carlos Gomez and Not by Accident