Qadir's Last Marbles - Leo Bormans & Qadir Nadery

Qadir's Last Marbles
The incredible story of a young man in Afghanistan and his escape to Europe. Written in a sober but vivid style that shifts between a fairy tale and harsh reality.


The true story of a father on the run

Young Qadir grows up in a small village in Afghanistan with his mother’s tales of dreams and his father’s iron determination. All he owns are eight marbles. War is all around them, killing many loved ones. Qadir survives by working for the international troops who come to liberate his country, until he too has to flee from the violence with his wife and children, with the Taliban hot on their heels. They cross mountains and seas, finally reaching Europe after three months. But the Great Gatekeeper refuses to let them in. One by one, Qadir loses the jingling marbles of his life. And yet there is hope.

> More about the book

Qadir’s Marbles is a fictionalised account of a true story. The story starts right in the middle of the action in 2015, during a crucial part of the journey when the family is crossing the sea in a rubber boat. After these first three pages, we return to 1989 and the world of eight-year-old Qadir. The chapters that follow (divided into four sections, each named after a gemstone) present his moving life story. They show him growing up in the war and how that war scarred him for life. We read about him leaving his little village of some twenty houses at the age of twelve to earn a meagre living, first working at a garage forty kilometres away and then moving to the dangerous city of Kabul.

We learn how he worked for international organisations, which exposed him increasingly to threats from the Taliban. We find out how he finally married Salima in 2010 and, after years working in the capital, inevitably has to flee to a safer world with their three children. Their flight is described in horrifying but touching details. Arrived in Europe, the war is not over. The Great Gatekeeper refuses to let them in. Qadir receives three orders to leave Europe. The legal battle is surreal. But in the end there is hope. At least for him.

Qadir's last marbles (Leo Bormans / Qadir Nadery)

Qadir Nadery (°1981) is born in Afghanistan and had to flee his country in 2015 because his life and that of his family was in danger due to his work for international troops and organisations. Terrorists killed his father and burned his house. On their flight with three young children, they have lost their three years old son. Now the family is living in Europe. Qadir Nadery is an assumed name because he still doesn’t feel safe.

Leo Bormans (°1954) is a researcher, journalist and the author of international bestsellers such as The World Book of Happiness (editions in fifteen languages – 300,000 copies) and The World Book of Hope. He has a Master in Philosophy and Literature (University of Leuven, Belgium) and is Distinghuished Lecturer in Happiness Economics Research at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam (The Netherlands). When a refugee camp was set up in his village, he happened to meet Qadir Nadery by accident. It was the start of a special friendship, ultimately leading to this book, which was “crying out to be written”.

This book was not simply ‘written down by’ Leo Bormans (as is so often the case in true-life stories like this one). It is the product of an intense friendship, a book in which every sentence was a joint effort. They spent a whole year working together on this story.

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A story of hope: a father on the run with 8 marbles