Born in Kandahar in 1978, Sultan fled to the United States at age five with her family. Raised in Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens, Sultan saw her life change when she was married by arrangement at the young age of seventeen to a virtual stranger fourteen years her senior -- a marriage she struggled to maintain and then hastily fought, eventually (after three years) being granted a divorce. This very divorce would become one of the first in her close-knit Afgan community, where the subject is considered rare and taboo.
Sultan went on to graduate from college summa cum laude with a degree in economics, and in July 2001, she returned to Kandahar, to explore her family roots and find herself. There she met her relatives and surveyed the conservative provincial town where she was born. on return visit to afganistan, she discovered the tragic death of her relatives at the hands of American troops and began to seek answers.
My War at Home is her memoir of self-discovery, family tradition, and life as a Muslim and feminist with political ideals. It speaks to the younger generation of Muslims in America as they struggle to resolve the ever-present inner conflict about what it means to be an American and a Muslim, while also examining the Muslim-American identity at both personal and political levels.
An arranged marriage at 16 to a man she has never spoken to ignites Afghan American Sultan's search for her place in the two cultures she considers her own. The 27-year-old who made the documentary From Ground Zero to Ground Zero with Jon Alpert describes in this accessible memoir how she became an advocate for women's rights in Afghanistan: after divorcing her husband and witnessing 9/11, Sultan's "soul-searching" becomes a mission to promote understanding between Afghans and Americans. While the book begins with the rich details of her traditional wedding, Sultan is not in her element here, tending to give her characters little depth. The author, who supported action against the Taliban, hits her stride when she moves from the personal to the political, describing, for example, organizing a conference on women and the Afghan constitution, or meeting an Afghan farmer whose wife and all but one of his children were killed in a U.S. attack. "Would this boy grow up to be America's enemy?" Sultan wonders; if al Qaeda members were hiding in Texas, would "AC-130 gunships, spewing bullets from a rotating cannon" be used? Though this politically driven book may age quickly, it is a time capsule that will appeal to a wide audience.