Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

The first person that Asne Seierstad, a veteran Norwegian journalist, met in Kabul when she enter it with the commandos of the Northern Alliance in November 2001 was a bookseller, Sultan Khan.

Sultan not only sold her 7 books but also become her friend. And he even invited her to his home for dinner. This give Anse an idea of writing a book about Sultan Khan and his family. Sultan agreed for her to moved into his home to observed.

At first, Anse thought Sultan is an unusual Afghan man who is open minded. But when she moved in, she got to know that he is not much different from other Afghan man. He is a typical Patriarch like everybody else. His words is law. Women speaks only when they are spoken to.

She saw many things which she thought is not right especially in terms of the woman rights.

There was the story of Sultan's first wife who is old and Sultan replaced her with a younger version. She had to bear with it as there is no other life that she may lead. If she were to divorce, she would have been an outcast in the society.

Then there are the story of Sultan sons and brothers who wanted more to life than to take care of Sultan's business and live under his thumbs.

But worse of all is Leila. Sultan's sister who is a very bright young woman. But her life is not for her to direct. She don't even have any say on man whom she is to marry.

This is a hard book for me to read. It took me about a week to finish this book.

There are many stories in this books which I read and read again. Can't believe that it's so outrageous. Like the part where Sultan's first wife being forced to accept the younger wife. And pity those young women who are forced to marry older man who can be cruel to them.

And most heart broken is the story of Leila.

This is a 5 stars rate kind of book. But don't expect it to be an easy read.


cleffairy said...

After read this book, sure nid to read 'Revenge is Sweet' and 'Divorce and Deadly'!

shahida shalahim said...


It is definitely a good read. Somehow I noticed a wrong perception towards Islam in general. Yet it is a good approach for Asne to stay with Sultan Khan's family to know the Afghan's life, but as she said, the Khan's family is rare a middle-class and yes, summing up for the entire Afghans is inappropriate because she just stayed there for mere 6 weeks. Thus, I was still shocked with the syllabus they taught the pre-schoolers (read page 57 & 58), and that definitely make me feel so grateful living in our dear country, Malaysia. But I further read that the real Sultan Khan took legal action on Asne for defaming his family and Afghans in general. But still, it is worth reading.

Small Kucing said...


Nah...not that bad la...a nice book to read.

cheeyee said...

I believe this is still what happening nowadays. I should feel grateful at least my other half is not like this.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi SK, wow! You sure know your books!
I guess I have gone past that, reading. Stopped reading the papers many years too.
Don't even know what movies playing.

I guess it was all those crazy years of working I now taking a much needed rest, ha ha.
Best regards, Lee.

Small Kucing said...


The Islam mentioned in there were so restrictive. Maybe coz of the Taliban influence or what.

Hmm...I have my doubts on they teaching he pre-schoolers to count bullets and number of death.

Well there is always two side in a story. We have heard Asne side but not sure about Sultan side.

Actually the 1st few pages really made me confused. Being Malaysian, when I see the word "Sultan", I was thinking of Sultan as in our Sultan.Didn't get into my thick skull that Sultan Khan is actually a name.

Small Kucing said...

Chee Yee

Depending on upbringing lo

Small Kucing said...

Uncle Lee

even now i dont know what movie is playing hahahaha

nylusmilk said...

wanted to buy this book long time ago but in the end didn't buy. good choice... i don't think i will keep this book. but if read i might. :P lol.

Small Kucing said...


You wana pinjam or not? AFter Cleffairy read I lend u la so you dont have to buy since u didnt intend to keep

nylusmilk said...

haha thanks for the offer. let me finish your jodi picoult book first before i consider. i have a very bad habit of borrowing books. :P the problem is that i still got so many books on my shelf i haven't read!

Small Kucing said...


anytime u want, u let me know la


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