"Highlighting the struggles of a family in search of a better life, this story revolves around the impoverished farming hamlet of Charuna, in the farthest highlands of Northern Pakistan, and the sawmill community of Youbou, on Vancouver Island, Canada, in the other corner of the world. The hard working people living in both Charuna and Youbou are defined in direct contrast to the glitz and glamour described by the author, at the Metropole Hotel in Karachi, and the Empress Hotel in Victoria. The two entirely different social classes are portrayed, and give this story a distinct colour. The author has chosen the common man as the subject of her research, while in sharp departure with the extant practice of blending in historical figures and celebrities.
The projection of Pakhtun customs, hospitality, geography, historical glimpses, the goodness of people such as Sir Robert Holland and the Bunker family, makes this an interesting read. The author has succeeded in her attempt at building bridges between and linking the two countries of Canada and Pakistan. "
Consul General of Pakistan, Vancouver
"Accompanying the smooth flow of the writing are numerous photographs of Gafoor and his family along with images of documents that fortify the realities of this immigrant experience in the New World of Canada. It is a winsome book, a tender document, and a winning story of the plight of immigrants – the timing of the publication of this book could not be more propitious."
Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
"A delightful account of one Pakistani family’s struggle to be able to live in Canada. The story is spread over several decades, starting with the father jumping ship and having to live in fear for many years while he manages with difficulty to earn a living and send back money to his family. Eventually he is able to bring his sons to Canada, but at each turn there are years of frustration and hardship. It is a stirring tale about the deprivations of the family's life in Pakistan and of the hard life lived by labouring immigrants such as the father, and you find yourself almost cheering at each stage of the family’s progress.
The story is put together by one of the sons together with a Canadian author. It is short and to the point, and simply narrated – almost naively so – which gives it its particular fresh charm. A similar story must belong to millions of others who have had to live through the gruelling process of escaping from poverty only to face the hardship of immigration. The story is a page-turner and particularly relevant to society today. "
Anthony Stancomb, Author
"A gripping and heart-warming tale starting with Gafoor, a Pakistani immigrant who came to Canada to find a better life for his wife and sons. The story starts in 1903, the year of his birth in his quiet mountain village. At the age of 18, eager to find work, he leaves his village and finds work on cargo ships, returning to his village between jobs. He marries a girl in the village, Basnoor. They have three sons.
In an effort to seek a better life, he finds his way to Canada in 1939 and jumps ship. He would be separated from Basnoor and his sons for many years as he sought to gain Canadian citizenship. By 1948 he has exhausted his efforts to become a landed immigrant and is ordered to leave the country. Sir Robert Holland, an attorney who had taken an interest in this kind, hard-working man, continues to intervene. Gafoor works hard to earn the money to sponsor his family - his eldest son would arrive in Canada first, eventually followed by his wife and sons. The story flips back and forth between Canada and Pakistan. The second son, Jamal's journey to Canada is fascinating, first plane ride, first hotel, etc. How unnerving it must have been for him. The rest of the family followed, twenty years after Gafoor set foot in Canada.
The author has provided history snippets in the chapters, Gandhi, Jinnah, WWII, the UK, the recognition of Pakistan as a nation etc., making the history come alive as it relates to the story. She has done a brilliant job with this memoir, a tribute to Jamal and his family. The photos at the end of the book bring it to life. Read this in one sitting, it was engrossing, interesting and educational. A must read for any student and lover of history and memoirs."
Janice J. Richardson, author of The Making of a Funeral Director
"This is a beautifully written account of an extraordinarily inspirational man. This heart-warming story about a young man who left behind all that was familiar to him in a remote North Indian village, to seek a better life for his family. Gafoor shows steely courage and determination in his quest to establish himself in Canada, so that in the fullness of time his family can follow him there. During the early years, considerable hardship and self-sacrifice is endured by him for the greater good of the family.
This is a labour of love by Schapansky, who has skillfully brought to light a tale that could so easily have slipped into oblivion. I highly recommend this memoir, which is rich in life-affirming tales of the kindness of strangers, during a time of separation and uncertainty for one family. Each chapter cleverly commences with some important historical events, which only enriches and puts into context the ever-changing historical backdrop. After all the heartache there is a happy ending! "
Lucy Lang, author of
Dislocation - a moving story of a turbulent childhood
"Jamal Khan and Teresa Schapansky came together to tell a very important story; one of courage, adventure and the wish to make a family’s life better. We must thank Jamal Khan for sharing his family’s story and Teresa for the joy with which she wrote."
Elaine Fuhr, Freelance Reviewer
“A very precise and chronological account that can be attributed to a dream of wanting future generations to know the struggles of life for the sole intent of that knowledge. Highly recommended.”
J.P Willson, author of
Through the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery
"A moving story of a Pakhtun immigrant to this wonderful country who remained steadfast to his objectives and through his hard work, dedication and sacrifice succeeded in providing a better future for his family.
It reflects the hard work of a person who left his home, in the remote mountains of northern Pakistan, in search of better opportunities and assimilated in an altogether different culture.
It’s a story of triumph over difficult circumstances, highlighting the unlimited possibilities for those who demonstrate discipline and perseverance to their cause.
It will be a rewarding experience for all who read it."
Mr. Tariq Azim Khan
High Commissioner for Pakistan, Ottawa
"The book, "Memoirs of a Pakhtun Immigrant" just may be the most quintessentially Canadian memoir written...
The author's prose is simple, unpretentious, without contrived drama.
She invites the reader to live the hardship, courage and utter determination of a man first to come to Canada,
to find acceptance through work, language and society, and to bring his family to be with him.
Withal, the story is touching, utterly compelling, and Teresa's telling, a wonder."
David Raeburn Finn, author of "Poopballs over the Shanty"
"Inspirational and quite absorbing, it brought to mind my own family history and my own immigration experiences in 1975 when I moved to the U.S.
Gafoor's life story is one of struggle and hope, it shows the greatness of Canada and its people, where it seems so natural for individuals to embrace complete strangers and assist them in their pursuit of a better life. This is not only a story of a Pakhtun immigrant, but also the story of the great heart of the Canadian people.
The inner strength of Gafoor in pursuit of his goals is quite unique and rare in the human condition; it says something about the upbringing of people like him, where the inner strength of the person far outweighs the drawbacks of literacy, culture, immigration status. There is within such people a soul that sparkles, which draws people to them and allows them to move forward in life with hope and success, not unlike the ships he worked on which moved through miles of oceans to reach their destinations. A truly good read."
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