Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Bookseller of Kabul - a good read

from w
I spent the last three days reading a book for our bookclub, non-fiction, written by a female journalist who lived with an Afghan family for a few months writing notes on their daily life. What an interesting but very depressing book particularly because the women were treated so badly. It certainly is a balance though to the kind of front page news we get about Afghanistan. Though she changed the names, the 'hero' fronted up after the book was published causing a bit of a kerfuffle.

Here are some comments:
Publishers Weekly
An international bestseller, it will likely stand as one of the best books of reportage of Afghan life after the fall of the Taliban.

Library Journal - Lucille M. Boone
For more than 30 years, Khan risked arrest by selling books and other printed materials. Yet at home, in a cramped, war-battered apartment shared by mother, siblings, wives, children, and nephews, Sultan is a tyrant.... Seirestad presents a vivid, intimate, yet frustrating picture of family life after the Taliban. Her book has been translated into 14 languages and is sure to be of interest to general readers here who are curious about life in Afghanistan.

Kirkus Reviews
A slice of Afghanistan today, rendered with a talent for fine, sobering prose and strange, unnerving settings that recall Ryszard Kapuscinski.

Washington Post Book World admirable, revealing portrait of daily life in a country that Washington claims to have liberated but does not begin to understand. Seierstad writes of individuals but her message is larger....

Boston Globe
... a compelling portrait of a country at a crossroads.

The Washington Post - Mark Hertsgaard
… [Seierstad's] closely observed, affecting account of the family's daily life, and especially of the virtual slavery its females endure, suggests that change will come slowly if at all to Afghanistan … Seierstad writes of individuals, but her message is larger, and no one who reads it will be sanguine about transforming this very traditional culture into a modern democracy anytime soon.

The New York Times Book Review - Richard McGill
Seierstad is a sharp and often lyrical observer of Afghan domestic life. Even in Ingrid Christophersen's slightly stiff translation, ''The Bookseller of Kabul'' reads like a novel and is absorbing reportage....From a strictly literary perspective, ''The Bookseller of Kabul'' is an effective portrait of one rather unhappy Afghan family. It is certainly the most intimate description of an Afghan household ever produced by a Western journalist.


Blogger Penny said...

Must look for this one sounds interesting if depressing.

1:46 AM  
Blogger The Moody Minstrel said...

One of my school-daze buddies is in Afghanistan now with the Army...but in non-combat support work. Recently he sent us a picture of himself surrounded by smiling Afghan children at a school where he was helping deliver medical supplies. It's such a happy, optimistic image.

But how much are we seeing of the "reality" there?'s gotta be a lot better than life under the Taliban...

4:30 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

It is not a romanticized version of family life but told with honestly about the complexity of characters and the contradictions and flaws in people. I really wanted to like the 'hero' but he treated a very poor man who stole a few postcards abominably.

5:19 PM  
Blogger tooners said...

altho it's depressing, i love books like this. i think i might try to order it.

i wrote a piece about my life here when i first moved to bahrain, and have thought, many times, of expanding it.... because so many of my friends have told me it's like a payton place here... a drama most every day.

7:54 AM  

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