Canadian

All We Leave Behind

All We Leave Behind is about Carol Off's efforts to help bring a family that was being targeted by warlords from Afghanistan to Canada.

Carol Off

In 2002, Carol Off and a CBC TV crew encountered an Afghan man with a story to tell. Asad Aryubwal became a key figure in their documentary on the terrible power of thuggish warlords who were working arm in arm with Americans and NATO troops.

When Asad publicly exposed the deeds of one of the warlords, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, it set off a chain of events from which there was no turning back. Asad, his wife, Mobina and their five children had to flee their home. 

The family faced an uncertain future. But their dilemma compelled a journalist to cross the lines of disinterested reporting and become deeply involved. Together, they navigated the Byzantine international bureaucracy and the decidedly unwelcoming policies of Stephen Harper's government until the family finally found a new home.

Carol Off's powerful account traces not only one family's journey and fraught attempts to immigrate to a safe place, it also illustrates what happens when a journalist becomes irrevocably caught up in the lives of the people in her story and finds herself unable to leave them behind. (From Random House Canada)

Carol Off is the host of CBC Radio's As It HappensAll We Leave Behind is a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

Excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

I was running through the darkness across the tarmac of Jinnah International Airport, weaving to avoid armed soldiers but carrying on with single minded purpose through the bedlam and towards the gunfire, fuelled entirely by adrenalin. And at that moment I had my earliest and, perhaps, most important morality lesson about journalism: Be careful what you wish for.

Members of the Abu Nidal Palestinian terrorist oragnization had gained access to a runway early that morning and boarded Pan Am Flight 73 bound for Frankfurt, then New York City. The jumbo jet was taking on fuel and passengers for its return journey when the hijackers, dressed as airport service workers, took control. I had just flown into Karachi, but I was already headed towards downtown, unaware of the event that would change so many people's lives, including mine.


From All We Leave Behind by Carol Off ©2017. Published by Random House Canada.

Author interviews

What happens when a journalist used to keeping herself out of the story realizes her reporting has put an entire family in danger? For the CBC's Carol Off, it would be life-changing. 23:58
Carol Off spent years helping save an Afghan man who risked his life to talk to her 11:15

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