Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Double Exposure, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas and a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe

Double Exposure follows photojournalist, Annie Hawkins, as she returns to Afghanistan in 2015 to rebuild a school for girls destroyed by the Taliban.

Set during the unstable period when the Taliban desperately tried to regain power by launching terrorist attacks against Afghans, the novel is a fast-paced, heart-wrenching tale of the people who stood strong in the face of terrorism.

Jeannee Sacken is a photojournalist just like the main character, Annie, and her experience adds an extra layer of authenticity to this action packed novel. During reading, I marveled at the courage of Annie (and real photojournalists like her).

I really appreciated the way Sacken contrasted the beliefs and actions of extremists in Afghanistan with the beliefs and actions of hospitable Muslims.

In addition, Annie’s interpersonal journey of balancing her (dangerous) career with motherhood and her love life was touching.

Unfortunately in August 2021, the Afghan government crumbled and the Taliban returned to power, shuttering schools for girls and launching further attacks against the Afghan people.

If your book club hasn’t read a book about Afghanistan, I recommend you read this novel that highlights the oppression Afghan women and girls often face, but offers hope for change.

Beyond that, a portion of the proceeds from book sales go to charities supporting the education of women and girls, especially in Afghanistan!

Jeannee Sacken was kind enough to provide an authentic Afghan recipe to feature here on Book Club Bites. Her borani banjan is the perfect dish to pair with your book club discussion of Double Exposure!

Double Exposure is a novel chosen through Book Club Bites’ collaboration with The Best of Women’s Fiction podcast.

Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Jeannee Sacken discusses Double Exposure and more: HERE.

I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for Double Exposure and Jeannee Sacken’s special recipe for you! So if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!

Double Exposure

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Here’s a brief summary of Double Exposure:

From the publisher:

November 2015-Seasoned war photojournalist Annie Hawkins returns home after an assignment to find her life falling apart. She’s under investigation for an incident that happened six months earlier in Afghanistan. Her best friend’s daughter, Seema, is still missing, apparently with her Taliban boyfriend. Her daughter Mel and friends are busy fundraising to rebuild the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls and expect Annie to deliver the money. To make matters worse, she has a major argument with the love of her life, Finn Cerelli, and they’re no longer speaking.

When Annie returns to Afghanistan to cover peace talks between the government and the Taliban, she takes a side trip to Wad Qol, where she discovers that not everyone wants the new school. Sabotage delays construction, and when a worker ends up dead, it’s clear the militants are to blame. It’s also obvious that they know exactly where Annie is.

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Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe

For Double Exposure Food Ideas:

I loved reading about all of the rich, Afghan food that Annie is passionate about in the book. There were plenty of different traditional Afghan foods mentioned throughout the novel, so if you want to create an Afghan menu for your book club, it should be fairly easy.

Here are a few of the food ideas from the pages of Double Exposure:

  • Chai tea – mentioned several times. It is also what Annie orders before the bikers stop to donate to Mel’s fundraiser
  • Roat (Roht) bread- Annie brings the bread to the Faqiri’s for dinner. The Faqiri’s serve kabuli palaw (lamb and rice dish), banjan borani (see recipe below), and qorma e sabzi (spinach stew)
  • Annie arrives at Ikrom and Gulshan’s – nan and lamb and eggplant
  • Other food Gulshan serves – fried potatoes and peppers with canned tomatoes topped with eggs and garnished with cilantro, roasted and stewed lamb

Luckily, if you aren’t sure about creating your own Afghan dish, Jeannee Sacken has provided us with the recipe for banjan borani or borani banjan.

Made with fried eggplant, spicy onions and peppers, stewed tomatoes and topped with creamy yogurt, this dish is a flavorful and unique option for your book club to indulge in while discussing Double Exposure.

You can serve it with nan (Afghan bread) or alone.

The recipe makes a large batch, big enough for your book club (only half is pictured)!

And, even if you don’t make this for your book club, I encourage you to make it for your family and discuss what is happening in Afghanistan today and the events over the last twenty years that have shaped the country.

Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for Double Exposure!

Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
A few tips on cooking Borani Banjan:

Here are a few tips to help make your cooking experience the best it can be!

1) If you’ve never bought eggplant before, test the eggplant by pressing against the skin. It should give slightly then bounce back. If it’s too soft or your finger leaves an indent, it’s probably not good.

2) If you don’t have sunflower oil, canola or olive oil can be substituted.

3) After you have cooked the eggplants and tomatoes, then removed the eggplants, you can smash the tomatoes lightly if they haven’t broken down to your liking.

Whether you choose something from this list or try this fabulous recipe from Jeannee Sacken, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for Double Exposure!

Steps for Borani Banjan
Steps for Borani Banjan
Steps for Borani Banjan
Steps for Borani Banjan

Double Exposure Book Club Recipe:

Borani Banjan Recipe

Borani Banjan

Rich and spicy, drizzled with tart, creamy yogurt, this Borani Banjan or Banjan Borani is a delicious Afghan dish full of eggplant and tomatoes. If you're looking for food ideas for your book club for Double Exposure, look no further.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 8
Calories 296 kcal


  • Sunflower oil for deep-frying plus ½ cup extra
  • 2 eggplants peeled and halved lengthways
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced into semicircles
  • 6 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 2 moderately hot fresh red chilies thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 5 large tomatoes sliced
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • Fresh mint and ground red paper to serve
  • salt


  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove crushed


  • In a large saucepan, heat enough oil for deep-frying to 325 degrees on an oil thermometer.
    Sunflower oil for deep-frying plus ½ cup extra
  • Gently add eggplant pieces, without overcrowding the pan, and fry, flipping them over occasionally, until they are golden on both sides and soft all the way through. Set aside in a colander placed over a bowl to catch the excess oil and repeat with the remain eggplant pieces.
    2 eggplants
  • Heat the extra oil in a large frying pan over high heat and fry the onion, garlic, and fresh chilies, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low and add the coriander, sugar, turmeric, ground red pepper, vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon salt, stirring for 2 minutes, for the flavors to combine.
    1 large yellow onion, 6 garlic cloves, 2 moderately hot fresh red chilies, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Arrange the tomato slices over this base to cover then add the boiling water.
    5 large tomatoes, ½ cup boiling water
  • Gently layer the eggplant pieces on top and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, to make the yogurt dressing, mix the yogurt, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl to combine well.
    2 cups Greek yogurt, 1 garlic clove
  • Spread half the yogurt dressing over a large serving platter, then using a flat spoon, gently lift out the eggplant pieces and arrange them over the yogurt, without overlapping. Spoon the onion and tomato sauce over the eggplant and decoratively drizzle the remaining yogurt dressing on top. Garnish with mint leaves and red pepper. Serve hot.
    Fresh mint and ground red paper, salt


From Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen, recipes by Farida
Keyword Afghan eggplant, banjan borani, borani banjan, borani banjan recipe
Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe

More Fun from Jeannee Sacken:

Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!

Banjan Borani (eggplant in tomato and yogurt sauce) is Annie Hawkins’ favorite dish. It’s delicious and has been prepared for me by various book clubs I’ve visited to discuss BEHIND THE LENS. It also features in the second book in the series, DOUBLE EXPOSURE.

Would like to credit someone besides yourself for the recipe?

Farida Ayubi developed this recipe and published it in her cookbook, Parwana. She also serves it at her restaurant of the same name.


Good food and a good book go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite food to enjoy while reading?

I love cookies, brownies, and Roht–an Afghan sweet bread.

Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?

Absolutely. My novel is set primarily in Afghanistan, and I did a great deal of research on Afghan (Dari) cuisine. I also ate as much Afghan food as I could!

Double Exposure Book Club Questions:

*WARNING: May contain spoilers!

These book club questions were kindly provided by the author and/or publisher. Please use only for your book club and do not reproduce them.

  1. Annie is suspended from her job for having aimed a gun at Piera McNeil. In what ways does this leave Annie morally compromised?
  2. Annie and Cerelli regularly keep significant secrets from each other. How does secret-keeping affect their relationship?
  3. Annie’s PTSD continues to be a problem for her in DOUBLE EXPOSURE. What impact does this have on the story? Why is she reluctant to deal with it?
  4. Annie’s daughter, Mel, is a secondary character who plays a major role. How do her actions affect the events of the story?
  5. During Annie’s stay in Wad Qol, she and Gulshan become good friends. In what ways are these two women similar? In what ways is their friendship surprising?
  6. DOUBLE EXPOSURE explores the relationships of four married Afghan couples: Awa and Firash Faqiri, Bibi Faludi and Omar Mohaqiq, Gulshan and Ikrom Abdulin, Seema and Awalmir. How do these marriages differ from one another, and how do they reflect the complexities of Afghanistan?
  7. The rebuilding of the Wad Qol Secondary School for Girls encompasses this novel. What does this endeavor mean to the different characters?
  8. Although DOUBLE EXPOSURE is a work of fiction, it is grounded in the reality of Afghanistan in Autumn 2015. Based on what you know about the events of 2021, what are some of the events and situations in the novel that could have really happened?
  9. In what ways do landays drive the plot?
  10. What are the different meanings that characters attach to the burqa in this novel?
  11. What did you learn about Afghanistan and Afghan culture by reading DOUBLE EXPOSURE?

Find Jeannee Sacken:

Jeannee can be found online!

Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Jeannee Sacken discusses Double Exposure and more: HERE.

Have you read Double Exposure? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

Bookish gifts for you or your reader friends!

Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
Double Exposure Book Club Questions and Recipe
Education for Women and Girls
Education for Women and Girls

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