In 2004, journalist Kim Barker began working as the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune. She covered the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the paper until her return to the US in 2009 when she wrote a memoir -- The Taliban Shuffle -- about the experience. Unlike many book narratives by war reporters, Barker’s pushed through the tragedy and conflict by teasing out the absurdities of covering such a fraught beat. So much so that her story caught the attention of Tina Fey and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, who turned her book into the film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
The film’s main character is a fortysomething TV reporter (Fey) stuck in a rut when she is recruited to Kabul (unlike Barker, who had volunteered for the job in her early 30s), but it still deftly nails the book’s key themes, from dealing with corrupt leaders to the challenges of dating as a journalist in a conflict zone.