This book is written by a Norwegian journalist, Anne Seierstad, who lived and worked in Kabul with a bookseller’s family post 9/11. The Afghan bookseller, whose family we delve into in the pages of this book is a bit of rebel, who has been saving Afghanistan’s books from the Soviets, the Americans, the Taliban, and war in general. He is a man with a mission to save the history of his country.
I must confess, I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I had hoped I’d be. It is a nice enough read, but there is nothing particularly hard hitting about it. When books are written by journalists, my expectations on how much a book is going to move me is higher. Additionally, the author is a bit judgemental about how downtrodden Afghan women’s lives are. The condition of women is not great in those parts of the world, but it wasn’t that which came out. It was more around how families are structured, how people marry one another, how they dress etc. And a lot of that is just peoples’ culture and their own personal choices. I have sympathy for the author because it must have been an incredible culture shock being a Scandinavian woman in Afghanistan.
Having said all that, the book does provide an intimate portrayal of families and their dynamics, their hopes and dreams, their funerals and celebrations. The writing is easygoing and I particularly enjoyed the adventures of the humble bookseller, whose simple mission becomes the David to the Goliath of macro forces that impinge upon his country, his faith and his people.
A nice read. I am giving my copy away, so if you want me to post it to you, do let me know.