Book Review: The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
The points of the book I was most focused on was how the women dressed, especially life under the burka. The cooking and duties the women had. Strict traditions of courtship, purchase of brides, and weddings. The attitudes of men to women, of course some males are more strict than others. Many people both male and female have an attitude of despair: living in a country that is illiterate, poor, high mortality rate, lack of electricity and water, what the future holds.
The Bookseller of Kabul has received much attention; both good and bad. The author was sued by the "bookseller" in Afghanistan who's family the author lived with for several months in order to write this book. This family was aware the author was a journalist and would be writing a book about them. I believe both parties were naive in how this book would affect them. The author began writing this book on the cusp of that most dark and horrifying of days, 9/11. As we know now, most positively, 9/11 changed everything. Perspective is everything. What my perspective is as a reader is not necessarily the perspective of the next reader, I think we need to be reminded of that. A writer's perspective, what they see, just as what an artist sees and then paints, will not be the same as the next artist and or writer. We all bring with us our prejudices, feelings, intuitiveness, perceptions, personalities, religion, politics. Some might state, "well a good journalist would be a professional observer and would write judiciously." There are no perfect people, just as their are no perfect journalists. I feel it is both logical and rational to believe we "all" come to the table (so to speak) with our own perspective. What is there to be gleaned from understanding this "perspective" business? Tact. A short word with much meaning. Tact means we know when to be mindful of others feelings no matter whether we agree or disagree. My dictionary gives a definition of, "intuitive perception of the right thing to do or say." Asne Seierstad set out to write a book about a family in Afghanistan, with the emphasis on the Bookseller and the women in the family. There was not anything written that I'd not already heard about in what the culture is like in Afghanistan, and in Muslim families. Men rule, women serve. There are degrees to this, some families and some Islamic countries are more strict than others. But, men still rule and women serve. It was piercing to my heart to read about the non-choice, the enslavement, the brutality, unforgiveness, and crude environment of living conditions. The book is sobering, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking.
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