The Snake Charmer narrates the poignant and passionate story of two brothers in Afghanistan, during the time of the Russian invasion. The elder, a writer and poet, is a modernist, who joins the Communist movement. The younger, a traditionalist, adheres to Islamic religious beliefs. The conflict between their values threatens to tear asunder their family ties and loyalties. Set against a backdrop of violence and war between foreign powers, acid-throwing against women who adopt Western dress; brutality and rape in police prisons; and political revenge under the Communist regime, the brothers live to see their lives dramatically changed and yet manage to retain their deep love for each other. This deeply moving story, told with uplifting humour, sears into our minds the tragedies that haunt present-day Afghanistan – the importance of Islam as a controlling force; the upheaval and destruction caused by the Russian and American wars; the rise of the Taliban and global terrorism. Bashir Sakhawarz’s writing captures the political and philosophic lyricism of the revered Afghan mystic poet, Rumi. It is the story of a society little known – passionate and bold, beautiful and erotic, courageous and daring, richly human and deeply tragic.