Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Bookseller of Kabul
I realize I'm a little late in my discovery of The Bookseller of Kabul, but it is a must read!
I don't want to only learn about the times I lived through by watching historical movies or reading history books. I think it is important to know what is currently happening that is making history. When my grandchildren need to interview someone who lived during the US involvement Afghanistan, I want to be able to be an informed narrator. I also want to know, so I can be an informed participant in this country and our democratic system.
We may be the United States of America, but Afghanistan is making its mark, and has for generations.
This book gives us a glimpse into the family structure of this culture so opposite of our own.
The author, Asne Seirstad, is a journalist. She has reported from Chechnya, the Balkans, and Iraq. This book is an international bestseller.
Why? Well, I know why I liked it:
1. It is nonfiction, but reads like a novel. She weaves the members of this particular family, Sultan's, like a good fiction read--with twists and turns. You want to know what is going to happen next. You want to know how one member of the family will effect another. You find yourself cheering for certain characters.
2. It makes me so grateful to be born in a country that gives women choice and equal opportunity. Growing up I could to whatever I wanted. I could express my wants and my desires, process my thoughts with my father and my mother. My husband also views me as an equal in our marriage. We are in this life together. What a contrast my experience as a woman has been in comparison to the women of Afghanistan. I almost felt like I couldn't breathe when I read of their experiences. It went beyond the description of the burka. They have no choices, no opportunities. No choice in who they marry, if they get to go to school, what jobs they do around the house, where they shop, when they shop, where they go, what they see, if their husbands take another wife etc. At times I wanted to scream for them.
3. I learned things I never knew about the US involvement in Afghanistan. Things I was frustrated by. As much as I wanted and want to see this country become democratic and these women liberated, it does seem a bit hopeless. What a waring country, waring for hundreds of years. What a mess. The United States comes in and tries to solve it all, and we the American people want it solved quickly. Is this realistic? But can we do nothing?
4. Seierstad's ability to describe moments and singular places is phenomenal. I will forever have etched on my mind the women's bathhouse, the trip through the long tunnel, shopping in a burka, Bibi Gul and her fatness, Aimal's concession stand, and the utter ache of Leila.
I hope that I've persuaded you to pick up this excellent read. Your eyes will further be opened.