Culture Lovers Need to Read The Bookseller of Kabul
The beautiful picture of two women shopping in burka’s caught my eye immediately. I thought it was ironic that the Islamic clothes used to shield a woman from the glances of men was being used to draw attention in the case of this book.
I must admit that I probably would not have picked up the book if it was a less eye-catching picture on the cover (other versions included a man riding a bike), but I’m so glad I did.
When imagining what the story was about, my mind created the image of a humble bookseller in Afghanistan that was persecuted by the Taliban. In this made-up world, he was a good man that risked everything to bring the people of his country the gift of books. However, that was only partially true because the real story of The Bookseller of Kabul sings a different song. It is about a man that appears very progressive on the outside, but behind the closed doors of his house, he runs a family that suffers under his patriarchal reign.
Seierstad writes with such honesty that the reader feels the pain from the family members.
It is the story told by the walls if they could talk.
Åsne Seierstad, a war correspondent and journalist, lived in the family’s home for a few months while she documented the family members everyday lives from their point of view.
Their stories paint a vivid picture of life in Afghanistan. While reading, I felt as if I was standing in the family’s cramped apartment in Kabul, witnessing firsthand the cruelty shown to both the women and sons. It was almost agonizing to read about them longing for different lives than the ones they were dealt.
The stories beg the answer to the question: “Is oppression okay as long as it’s a cultural tradition?”
Seierstad writes with such honesty that the reader feels the pain from the family members. So much honesty, in fact, that her report caused quite a bit of controversy once the book was released.
The father of the household, the bookseller, felt disrespected by the way he was portrayed in the book. He pursued legal action against the author due to the effect the book had on his reputation. He admitted, “everything in the book was true, but too honest.”
Readers around the world loved the chance to get to know real people that live without the freedoms that we ourselves are accustomed to. So much so, that the international bestseller has been translated into over forty languages.
The Bookseller of Kabul is gripping because it explains just enough history for us to understand why things are the way that they are, without making us fall asleep.
It’s easy to see why everyone loved this book. All except the bookseller himself that is.