The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories

Finalist, National Book Awards 2022 for Fiction

book cover Jamil Jan Kochai, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories
ISBN 9780593297193
Viking Books / Penguin Random House
author photo Jamil Jan Kochai. (Photo credit: Jalil Kochai)
Jamil Jan Kochai

Jamil Jan Kochai is the author of the short story collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories, a Finalist for the National Book Award, and 99 Nights in Logar, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

Pen/Hemingway finalist Jamil Jan Kochai ​breathes life into his contemporary Afghan characters, moving between modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in America. In these arresting stories verging on both comedy and tragedy, often starring young characters whose bravado is matched by their tenderness, Kochai once again captures “a singular, resonant voice, an American teenager raised by Old World Afghan storytellers.”

In “Playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” a young man’s video game experience turns into a surreal exploration on his own father’s memories of war and occupation. Set in Kabul, “Return to Sender” follows two married doctors driven by guilt to leave the US and care for their fellow Afghans, even when their own son disappears. A college student in the US in “Hungry Ricky Daddy” starves himself in protest of Israeli violence against Palestine. And in the title story, “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” we learn the story of a man codenamed Hajji, from the perspective of a government surveillance worker, who becomes entrenched in the immigrant family’s life.

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories is a moving exploration of characters grappling with the ghosts of war and displacement—and one that speaks to the immediate political landscape we reckon with today.

Judges Citation

The stories in The Haunting of Hajji Hotak are dazzling. With inventive and moving prose, Jamil Jan Kochai challenges notions of place and identity through his beautiful portrayals of contemporary Afghan characters. The power of Kochai’s writing is his insistence that readers witness the lives of people who too often have been defined through the eyes of others. These stories, filled with ferocity, humor and tenderness, will crack your heart wide open.


Jamil Jan Kochai at the 2022 National Book Awards Finalist Reading