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Publisher's Summary

For more than 20 years Sultan Khan defied the authorities to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, and watched illiterate soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. In spring 2002, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad spent four months living with the bookseller and his family. As she steps back from the page and lets the Khans tell their stories, we learn of proposals and marriages, hope and fear, crime and punishment. The result is a unique portrait of a family and a country.
©2002 Asne Seierstad; (P)2005 Time Warner AudioBooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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The book seller of Kabul

I enjoyed the insight to a different culture the narrator was excellent more for female readers.

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  • Sheila
  • 04-16-15

Brilliant insight to this Country and it's people

Any additional comments?

I was uncertain whether I really wanted to hear this, but it was on my book club's list so I gave it a go. I couldn't put it down. I felt that I better understood the situation in the country and what had lead to it's problems. Somewhat brutal at times, certainly very sad in places, but always fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 12-26-14

Insightful, challenging but troubling book

Somewhat tragic story of enlightenment marred by paternalism, parochialism and conservatism.

This is the story of a well known family of booksellers and how they survive and at times thrive in challenging periods of Kabul’s political history – before, during and after the Taliban. Semi-ethnographic insights are generously offered from an outsider-insider story of a bookseller who treasured and protected Afghanistan’s written history, and his family. Despite hardship, poverty, threats, violence and abuse the family protect and treasure important books from the repressive intolerance of the Taliban regime. The bookseller positions himself as neutral; selling whatever people are prepared to buy, often stocking diametrically political perspectives.

The book emerges from a Norwegian journalist who was hospitably accommodated by the bookseller’s family; learning about their past, exploring the perspectives and stories of each of the family members. She promises to tell the story of the family and its important role in protecting the cultural history of Afghanistan. She records the stories of the bookseller and his family, and in so doing brings to light his harsh and abusive side.

The Bookseller of Kabul offers interesting insights into Afghanistan in different periods; into the clash of cultures; the value of books; and intra-family power dynamics and abuse.

The successful publication and sales of this book created its own story: the ethics of receiving and benefiting from the hospitality of a family while producing a work which is deeply critical of the (superficially disguised) host himself and his relationships with family and others.

Insightful but troubling...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Arendse
  • 07-26-11

A must read about family life in Afghanistan

The author, a Norwegian woman, gets the opportunity of staying with an Afghan family, the Bookseller of Kabul to be precise, and Seierstad shares with us what she sees, learns and experiences about the life of the bookseller, a society, a country and a family structure so very different from ours.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • First Impressions
  • 11-13-17

Bleak 'non fiction' but can it really be accurate?

A supposedly non-fiction book written by a Scandinavian who did not speak the local languages and only stayed with the bookseller's family for 3 months and yet we are to believe that she was able to get into the heads of multiple people from a completely different culture. And 100% bleakness? No place for happiness/brightness in this society? There are points of interest in it, however, and the narrator does an excellent job with the matieral available.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-17

very informative

I enjoyed this book about the life and family dynamics in Afganistan. the ending was abrupt tho

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  • Losa
  • 07-03-16

Great, but ends rather abruptly

Really enjoyable but I was confused by so many characters without space to introduce them sufficiently.

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  • Marianna
  • 01-30-12

At what costs???

The book is written well, but at what costs??? Yeah, it is a great story plot, but - for the readers, written totally from a western perspective. It emphasises aspects of the culture, which are not right, like supression of women, but it sadly it never mentions aspects of culture, which are uncommonly generous in our western culture, like looking after our relatives or guests. What it does not mention is the cost - the impact of this book on the family, who so generously welcomed the author in their home, now knowing that this would ruin them and their livelihood. I did not know it when I read this book, but feel deeply disturbed by the breach of trust and confidence. If I had an informed choice again, I would certainly donate the money to the charity rather than to an author of a book, who abused the generosity and trust of their hosts. This review comes from a person from a European
background.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Vicki Atkinson
  • 05-17-15

Expect your pre-conceived ideas to be challenged

Makes you realise the Burqua is inhuman and the current regime has no regard for the female population of Afghanistan