The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Glimpses into personal lives     

My rating:  5 out of 5     

Amazon.2amazon-co-uk

The author of this book stayed with a “middle-class” family in Kabul, Afghanistan,  for four months, haThe Bookseller of Kabulving met the father who was a bookseller.  This book is what she learned about the lives of this family (which Seierstad explains is not a typical Afghani  family), through her observations, going out and about with them and what they told her.  The family mostly live in Kabul, and the stories and anecdotes are from the years 1973 – 2002.

Each chapter of this fascinating book covers a different subject.  Subjects include lives of the women, arranged marriages, meals, roles within the family and love.  Also covered is life under the Taliban and the warlords, education, politics, history of Afghanistan and of course religion.  All these subjects are as seen from the point of view of the people she lived with, and spoke to.

I picked up this book, having been recommended it and assuming it was a novel.  It was much better than a novel!  The family life and their difficulties and successes are described so well that I felt as if I was there watching the family live out their lives.

If you are interested in learning about a way of life, where the culture and expectations are very different from the western norm, then this is the book for you.  Shocking, at times frightening, but always engrossing.

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