Robert Hillman, Najaf Mazari and


    NAJAF MAZARI was born in 1971 in a small village near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. At the age of 12, he left school and, unbeknown to his parents, apprenticed himself to a master rugmaker. Thus began his love affair with rugs. <br/><br/> He fled Afghanistan in 2001 after being tortured, narrowly escaping certain death during the genocide of men and boys in Mazar-e-Sharif carried out by the Taliban. Reluctantly leaving behind a young wife and six-month-old baby, he made the dangerous journey overland, eventually crossing the ocean in a leaky boat to the shores of Australia, where he ended up in the Woomera Detention Centre. After his release, he settled in Melbourne Australia where he now owns a rug shop, selling traditional Afghan rugs. <br/><br/> His wife and daughter were finally given permission by the Australian government to join him in 2006 after almost six years' separation. In April 2007, he was granted Australian citizenship. <br/><br/> ROBERT HILLMAN is a Melbourne Australia - based writer of fiction and biography. His most recent biography, My Life as a Traitor, written with Zarha Ghahramani, came out in 2007 and will appear in numerous overseas editions this year. His 2004 autobiography, The Boy in the Green Suit, won the Australian National Biography Award for 2005. <br/><br/> His collaboration with Najaf Mazari on The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif grew out of an abiding interest in the hardships and triumphs of refugees.

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