The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad


Stars: ****

I was interested in reading this book ever since I first read a review of it. I’ve seen so many reviews for it since that I can’t remember where I first saw it! I finally was able to fit time in to read it for the Bibliography challenge and Book Around the World challenge and I’m glad I did.

The book was written with information and experiences the author heard and saw when she lived with the family in Kabul. While in some ways the Khan family is a typical Muslim family, in other ways they are not. It’s also one of the few books (that I’ve seen at least) on life in Afghanistan SINCE 9/11 that doesn’t focus on the events that happened. 9/11 is mentioned a few times in the book but it’s not dwelt on, it’s far from the purpose of this book, which is a nice change. It’s nice to hear Afghanistan and not have to hear only about terrorist, Al Qaeda and The Taliban. This book does tell the 16 laws that Afghani’s had to follow during the reign of the Taliban. It’s crazy what was considered illegal. Some I understood, even if I didn’t agree, but I have no idea why they found photos of living things wrong. Posters were burned, books with pictures depicting living things were burned or the photos scratched out. Why? IF anyone know’s the answer to that, I’d love it.

If you have read some of my other reviews, you may have noticed I am intrigued by the religion of Islam and the Muslim way of life. This is a great book if you want to know more about how Muslims live and why some wear the burka (the veil.)

On the other side of things is the book theme. Sultan Khan is an Afghani bookseller. He was a bookseller before the Taliban settled in and he stuck through the Taliban as best as he could. Many of his books were burned but he secretly sold books, postcards and pamphlets and is glad to be back to selling properly, without someone breathing down his neck. It was interesting to see how book selling works in another country. What sort of books he sells and who he sells to is described, as is some of the work that goes into running a bookshop. It’s really quite a lot. It was very interesting.

While searching the net, I found out that there has been quite the uproar by the family in the story. Information here: http://news.bookweb.org/features/1820.html

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.