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Der Buchhändler aus Kabul by Asne…

Der Buchhändler aus Kabul (original 2002; edition 2005)

by Asne Seierstad

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5,0991591,604 (3.63)338
Capturing the harsh realities of life in modern-day Afghanistan and plight of Afghan women, the Norwegian journalist provides a portrait of a committed Muslim man, a bookseller, and his family living in post-Taliban Kabul, Afghanistan. Reader's Guide included.
Title:Der Buchhändler aus Kabul
Authors:Asne Seierstad
Info:Ullstein Taschenbuchvlg (2005), Paperback, 302 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad (2002)


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» See also 338 mentions

English (138)  Spanish (8)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
For some reason I thought this book was going to be a fictional story, maybe a mystery, about the happenings in a bookstore in Kabul. Couldn't have been more wrong and couldn't have been more glad to BE wrong.

A female journalist met a man in Kabul who sells books. She convinced him to let her live with his family for several months and write a book about them. So, what we have is a portrait of the daily life of an Afghan family.

Since I wasn't expecting this at all, I wondered if it was fiction or non-fiction. The author says "I have written this book in literary form, but it is based on real events."

She said she's never had the urge to hit anyone as much as she did there, mostly because of the way the men treated the women. I felt the same way, reading the book. I already knew, of course, that women are treated badly there, but this book really made me feel it.

I learned a lot from this book. For instance, I didn't know that being forced to wear the burka is a fairly recent thing. From around 1959-the 1980's, I wanna say, women didn't wear them!!! It wasn't until their civil war broke out and Islamic law took over that they started wearing them again. When the Taliban arrived, "all female faces disappeared from Kabul's streets."

You will want to read this book if you're interested in the daily lives of people and if you enjoy historical information and interesting facts.

***Update*** I just read some REALLY negative reviews of this book that surprised me. I can't find anything negative to say about this book. Did none of those reviewers read the Foreward? The author explains HOW she wrote the book. The people in the book told her their own personal stories and she incorporated them into the book. She flat out says "When I describe thoughts and feelings, the point of departure is WHAT PEOPLE TOLD ME THEY THOUGHT OR FELT in any given situation".

She explains that she is NOT an omniscient author. "Internal dialogue and feelings are based entirely on what family members described to me." ( )
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
Novela escrita en base als coneixements islàmics d’una periodista que coneix una família de l’Afganistan. Explica moments dels diferents membres de la família tal i com son viscuts en un moment postguerra després que els talibans es trobin al poder i com ànsien recuperar la llibertat que els han pres.
Ajuda a entendre la cultura islàmica ( )
  EsterCrusellas | Apr 25, 2021 |
I read this book till the end, even the epilogue, which was probably the only place where I could garner some empathy, kindness & positivity from the author about the people she was writing about. Throughout the book it was just upsetting to read how she could often assume the worst of the people she was writing about. There is little effort in trying to understand why the people are the way they are, she simply relates us her experience. Context is sorely lacking, which is so important for a country like Afghanistan and the way it has shaped their culture.

Yet what is even more disturbing is that she chose to remove herself from the narration, relating to us the story as if she were just watching from above. Because what happens was the assumptions she made, often even about their motivations, feelings and thoughts, are presented as if they were objectively true; as if these were truly the thoughts of the people are not what she assumed them to be.

It disturbs me that people are reading this as an accurate representation of Afghanistan, when this is coming from a woman who had spent only 3 months with a family, who pre-empted the story with her own anger about her experiences and often throughout the book wrote about it quite crudely. And who are those two women on the book cover? Are they female members of the family? A check on the photographer in the credits tells me that it doesn't seem to be. It really pains me to see how Orientalism is still alive and well.

Certain broad claims she makes are never clarified or justified. The women whom she pities as being definitively oppressed aren't even speaking for themselves, they're merely related to us through her. Why doesn't she let them speak? That's one of the first rules of empowerment. This silencing and speaking with definitive authority about what the people truly felt inside was what disturbed me the most. Her well-meaning but condescending pity and assumption of intimate knowledge of these people.

( )
  verkur | Jan 8, 2021 |
Fascinating and tragic look at private family life in Kabul after the departure of the Taliban. More ethnography than fiction, definitely worth a read. ( )
  helenar238 | Oct 31, 2020 |
Over two decades Sultan Khan sold books in defiance of the authorities. The authority changed from Afghans to communists to Taliban, but the persecutions remained the same; imprisonment, arrest, beatings and regular interrogation. He suffered watching illiterate Taliban thugs burn piles of his books in the streets of Kabul, so he hid them. His collection and stock was secreted across attics and rooms across the capital. Whilst he abhorred censorship and was passionate about all things literary he was also an Afghan man. He had strict and immovable views on family life, the role of women in society and the home and how he treated people and expected them to treat him with due deference.

It is into this family that Seierstad comes. In her unique position as a Western woman, she is able to move between the two hemispheres of male and female life in the home and the city, something that no male journalist would have been able to achieve. It is a time of huge change too, she arrived in 2002, just after the Taliban had be routed by the Americans, and whilst society had thrown of some of the shackles, many cultural norms still remained. In this she takes a step back and lets the Khans speak for themselves, and you see a very private life inside an Afghan family.

It is not the easiest book to read, not because it isn’t well written and translated, but because the society and culture that she describes is so very different to ours. It is brutal at times, heavily restricting women in what they can do, say and achieve in society, as well as having tribal fighting, harsh justice, precious little infrastructure and at times no hope. They have decades of oppression there and to make steps towards a society that has those opportunities that we take for granted will take many years and need deep fundamental changes to political and culture to bring it about. I had hoped that it would be more about the perils of the book business there, and whilst it made for a fascinating account, didn’t live up to what I had hoped for. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
Norwegian journalist Seierstad casts light on the difficult, sometimes dreary, often (still) dangerous life of a bookseller in the Afghan capital, not neglecting the equal but very different tribulations of the women in his family. ... A slice of Afghanistan today, rendered with a talent for fine, sobering prose and strange, unnerving settings that recall Ryszard Kapuscinski.
added by mysterymax | editKirkus Reviews

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Seierstad, Åsneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armand, Giskensecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Behe, RegisMedarb.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berger, CarinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooks, KateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christophersen, IngridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Covián, MarceloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, JoannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dworzak, ThomasPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eschlbeck, RolandUmschlagentwurfsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Feig, Andrássecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fox, EmiliaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grit, DiederikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoyrup, SaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kiuru, Veijosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kon, Ronald E.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Madureira, ManuelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mänd, AndresTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moreira, Madalena,secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paterniti, Giovannasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Romand-Monnier, CélineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rumberg, KorneliaUmschlagentwurfsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salomon, Nannasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sans Climent, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skevik, GreteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stolpe, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
StoltzedesignCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wand, GiselaPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolandt, Holgersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wondergem, MijkeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Migozarad! (It will pass) - Graffito on the walls of a Kabul teahouse
For my parents
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One of the first people I met when I arrived in Kabul in November 2001 was Sultan Khan. (Foreword)
When Sultan Khan thought the time had come to find himself a new wife, no one wanted to help him.
A few weeks after I left Kabul, the family split up. (Epilogue)
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Capturing the harsh realities of life in modern-day Afghanistan and plight of Afghan women, the Norwegian journalist provides a portrait of a committed Muslim man, a bookseller, and his family living in post-Taliban Kabul, Afghanistan. Reader's Guide included.

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Book description
This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.
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Average: (3.63)
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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316159417, 0316734500


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