The Bookseller of Kabul
is a non-fiction book written by Norwegian
journalist Åsne Seierstad
, about a bookseller, Shah Muhammad Rais
(whose name was changed to Sultan Khan), and his family in Kabul
. It takes a novelistic
approach, focusing on characters and the daily issues that they face.
Åsne Seierstad entered Afghanistan two weeks after the September 11 attacks
and followed the Northern Alliance
into Kabul where she spent three months. Disguising herself by wearing a burka
, she lived with a bookseller and his family in Kabul which provided her with a unique opportunity to describe life as ordinary Afghan citizens saw it.
As well as giving a historical account of events in Afghanistan as democracy
is established, Seierstad focuses on the conditions of Afghan women who still live very much under the domination of men—Afghan traditions allow for polygamy
and arranged marriage
. She also addresses the conflict between westernization
and traditional Islam
, and gives an accessible account of Afghanistan's complex recent history under the rule of the USSR
, the Taliban
and coalition-supported democracy.
Following global critical acclaim, many of the book's descriptions have been contested by Rais, who has taken the author to court in Norway for what he says is a defamation and assault on his character, family and country. Seierstad for her part insists on the integrity of her account and asserts that Rais has no grounds for a... Read More