October 24, 2012

The Bookseller of Kabul by Anes Seierstad

I liked this book- not as much as I thought I would, but it has its merits.

I did not realize this book would be told in short vignettes and anecdotes.  I usually respond to this type of writing style, but I did not like it as much in this book.  It felt more disjointed than free or even self-contained. 

 I liked learning about the Afghan culture following the September 11th attacks as well as the family Seierstad followed.  Although Rais was a hugely disrespectful dillweed, in my Americanized opinion, he was also very traditional.

The themes of Afghan traditions and Islam butting heads with westernization and democracy were fascinating.  One scene, in particular, brings to mind the striking contrast - the ladies walking the open air markets in burkas that cover everything from the tops of their heads to their ankles, with only the eyes barely visible through a grate and their shoes. Yet the women's sandals revealed the newly reinstated freedom of painting their nails.  Even this simple narrative puts a lot in perspective, doesn't it? 

In fact, what I found the most provocative was actually the controversy that surrounded the release of the book, in which Rais sued the author for defamation of character and what he felt was an assault on his country.

If you are interested in Afghan culture and would like to take a glimpse inside an Afghan family, I would definitely give this book a read.


  1. bermudaonion(Kathy)October 24, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Sorry it didn't live up to your expectations. It sounds like it's still worth a read.

  2. Disjointed narratives drive me crazy, so I'll probably give this one a pass.

  3. I have had this one on my shelf for a while. I appreciate the warning and look forward to reading it!

  4. I have this on TBR as well but now not so keen if it is disjointed as that normally really turns me off a story. Will give it a go eventually :)


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