Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Bookseller of Kabul

This is my first 'official' book review on this site. The site still has miles to go before becoming the full-fledged book blog that I hope it will be. So, I present to you..

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
ISBN-13: 978-0316734509
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Language: English

An award winning journalistic fiction centered around a family in Kabul, Afghanistan, this book was in turns heart-wrenching and frustrating to read. The Khan family is lead by Sultan Khan, a successful bookseller in the sandy deserts of Afghanistan. It is rare for an Afghan to be literate, what more to continually strive and fight to protect literature. Sultan Khan has been arrested, beaten and imprisoned all on accounts of selling books forbidden under the strict rule of the Taliban, but yet he strives on to save the books that mean so much to him.

The story also brings us into the home of Sultan, where readers meet his two wives, three sons and two daughters. It is common in Afghanistan that unmarried sisters live with their brothers and it is here where we read about Leila, Sultan's youngest sister, the subject of much compassion. The books not only focuses on the struggles fighting the battle of illiteracy but also gives a touching account of the struggles of women in Afghanistan.

Sensuous culture and strong willed determination is exposed as the story takes twists and turns. A rich narrative based on a true family, The Bookseller of Kabul left me speechless right till the very end. It was with a stray tear in my eye that I read the last word in the book.