Christina's Reviews > The Bookseller of Kabul

The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad
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's review
Oct 13, 2008

liked it

I feel a little silly assigning stars to nonfiction, because I don't feel like I can judge the story or the characters. These are real people, real lives, and who am I to arbitrarily hand out stars? I can judge the writing, though, which I thought was clear, unbiased and unsentimental but also artless. I suppose it's about what I would expect from an author who is a journalist rather than a novelist. So the 3 stars go to the writing, not the content. Oh, and I was confused by the chapter about the interpreter and the American reporter. It seemed like the editor told Seierstad to throw that in to appeal to Americans who hear "Afghanistan" and only think "Osama." It didn't fit with the narrative at all, and I thought it was boring (apart from the mention of accepted homosexuality, which was very surprising).
About the content: Wow, this book made me ANGRY. I suppose I didn't expect any different, but the absolute absence of women's rights still shocked me, especially within the family. I was appalled by the way teenage boys treated their own mother and aunts. Spoiled and angst-ridden Mansur particularly bothered me. But the one I really hated was the bookseller himself, Sultan. Despite being well-read and "liberal," he denies even his own children a basic education. He berates his wives and female relatives and hordes money and fruit. He doesn't even share his relative wealth with his own immediate family. He ruthlessly pursues an impoverished carpenter who steals postcards from his bookshop. He seems ONLY to care about business, money, and himself. Honestly, I don't know if I've ever felt so strongly about anyone I've encountered in a book, and it's even more disturbing because he's a real person.
Sultan seemed to be the only person not debilitated the crushing bleakness of life in Kabul. Aaaaaaaaargh.

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message 1: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen Christina, your reviews are informative and thought-provoking. Keep it up!

Christina Thanks! I do enjoy writing about books, so I'm glad you like my reviews.

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