We are honored to welcome pro-athlete squash player Maria Toorpakai. On her path to becoming a top-ranked world athlete, she burned all of her “girly” clothes to pass as a boy in tribal Waziristan and practiced squash in her bedroom to protect teammates from Taliban threats. Maria will read from her riveting account, with Q & A and signing to follow on Monday, May 9th at 7 pm.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF DAUGHTER tells of Maria’s harrowing journey to play the sport she knew was her destiny, first living as a boy and roaming the violent back alleys of the frontier city of Peshawar, rising to become the number one female squash player in Pakistan. For Maria, squash was more than liberation – it was salvation. But it was also a death sentence, thrusting her into the national spotlight and the crosshairs of the Taliban, who wanted Maria and her family dead. Maria knew her only chance of survival was to flee the country.
Enter Jonathon Power, the first North American to earn the title of top squash player in the world, and the only person to heed Maria’s plea for help. Recognizing her determination and talent, Jonathon invited Maria to train and compete internationally in Canada. After years of living on the run from the Taliban, Maria packed up and left the only place she had ever known to move halfway across the globe and pursue her dream. Now Maria is well on the way to becoming a world champion as she continues to be a voice for oppressed women everywhere.
“Maria is a true inspiration, a pioneer for millions of other women struggling to pave their own paths to autonomy, fulfillment, and genuine personhood.”
—Khaled Hosseini, New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner, And the Mountains Echoed, and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Maria Toorpakai is currently ranked as Pakistan’s top female squash player and 48th in the world. As a child growing up in a highly conservative tribal area of Pakistan where girls’ involvement in sport was forbidden by the local Islamic culture, Toorpakai trained and competed as a boy in Peshawar. Toorpakai currently resides and trains in Toronto, Canada.