Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

An amazing insight into the life of the typical family in Afghanistan. Asne Seierstad takes us into a different world. A world where men rule. Women are like slaves.

Every American should read this story. The average American has a life a million times better than those in Afghanistan. It's heart wrenching to read.

Asne Seierstad is a journalist from Norway who went to Afghanistan after September 11th. She found a bookstore and a bookseller her seemed to her to be completely different. He could speak English, he seemed well-read, worldly, and liberal. She asked to live with him and write a book about his life. He agreed. For months she lived in his home. Not as a woman but without a sex. She was able to eat with the men and speak to men. The other women could not even look at men. Seierstad wore the burka. She felt both liberated and trapped in it.

What infuriated Seierstad the most about living in the bookseller's home was the way that the women were treated.

What surprised me by this story was how the men even feel trapped by the rules their culture enforces upon them.

The bookseller, Sultan, works very hard for his family. He holds himself to a very tough standard. His younger brothers and his sons have to live up to this standard as well. Even though the bookseller's family are thought of as a wealthy family they live like the rest of the poor families. Sultan saves his money to build more bookstores and print school books.

My favorite character in the book is Leila. I hoped that she would marry Karim and have a better life. She is slave to everyone in the house. The youngest female. She wakes before everyone and goes to bed after everyone.

My least favorite character is Mansur (Sultan's eldest) and a shopkeeper friend who sexually abuses women and young girls. Mansur physically and emotionally abuses the women of the house.

I am sad for Afghanistan. At one time it was a wealthy, beautiful country.

According to an article I read, the bookseller of Kabul had to leave Afghanistan after Asne Seierstad's book became a top seller. Asne has donated large sums of money from the sell of the book to a charity that helps families from Afghanistan.

The bookseller has come out with his own book.

NPR Article about Kabul Bookseller

Interview with the author
New York Times Article

1 comment:

All Rileyed Up said...

Did you ever read A Thousand Splendid Suns? After reading that, I had a lot of trouble thinking any of my problems in life were real problems. I'm definitely adding this book to my to-read list.

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I am an identical twin. I am married with three children currently residing in PA. From California. Attended three high schools in three states and seven colleges in three states in seven years. I have a degree in photography and journalism