Street of Storytellers
Street of Storytellers
September 25, 2019
Cover Placeholder - Final Cover Coming Soon
Release Date: September 25, 2019
Blaming his parents’ divorce on his father’s obsession with finishing a book about an ancient lost Buddhist civilization, 15-year-old Luke is dragged to Northwest Pakistan, home of the ruins, by his professor dad over Christmas vacation. To punish his dad, Luke resolves that he won’t learn or see anything about the project — and instead he is pulled into the ferment within the city bazaars, where the extremist movement that will become Al Qaeda, precursor of ISIS, is just taking hold. This is December 1984.
Set in the age-old frontier city Peshawar, the first-person story centers on four teenagers: Luke, the narrator, who knows nothing about the world he is plunged into; Yusuf, an Afghan refugee who is a waiter in Luke’s hotel and becomes his friend; and Rasheed and Danisha, son and daughter of the local professor who is co-authoring the book. Luke is very drawn to Dani, but discovers he can’t touch or be alone with her in the strict Pashtun culture. While Dani gets in serious trouble for speaking out against the extremists, her brother has joined Osama bin Laden’s first group of young jihadis — and Rashi lures Luke into their plot to burn the professors’ work, which bin Laden sees as promoting idolatry.
Key to the story’s building suspense are Luke’s love for music, which connects him to local players in the traditionally tolerant Sufi shrine culture, also being menaced by the extremists; and Yusuf’s friendship with a Sufi spiritual teacher, who helps Luke see what is really at stake here and which side he is on. When Luke makes his choice, the consequences can’t be avoided — but they unfold in a way that no one expects.
Doug Wilhelm is a fulltime writer and editor in Weybridge, Vermont. His 16 published books for young readers include The Revealers (FSG 2003, Macmillan/Square Fish ’11), which has been the focus of reading-and-discussion projects in well over 1,000 middle schools and continues to be a perennial choice for gradewide and all-school reads across the country. A production of the play version of The Revealers by the National Children’s Theatre of South Africa was nominated for the 2015 Naledi Award, that country’s top theatrical honor. Doug has visited over 100 schools across the U.S., connects readily with young readers, and maintains an active email list of over 600 school teachers, librarians, administrators and other educators. His website, www.dougwilhelm.com, is a resource center for working with his novels, and has averaged as much as 4,000 hits per day