The Bookseller of Kabul

  • by Asne Seierstad
  • Narrated by Emilia Fox
  • 6 hrs and 54 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A Richard and Judy Book Club Selection.

For more than 20 years Sultan Khan defied the authorities to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, and watched illiterate soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. In spring 2002, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad spent four months living with the bookseller and his family. As she steps back from the page and lets the Khans tell their stories, we learn of proposals and marriages, hope and fear, crime and punishment. The result is a unique portrait of a family and a country.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Brilliant insight to this Country and it's people

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I was uncertain whether I really wanted to hear this, but it was on my book club's list so I gave it a go. I couldn't put it down. I felt that I better understood the situation in the country and what had lead to it's problems. Somewhat brutal at times, certainly very sad in places, but always fascinating.

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- Sheila

Insightful, challenging but troubling book

Somewhat tragic story of enlightenment marred by paternalism, parochialism and conservatism.

This is the story of a well known family of booksellers and how they survive and at times thrive in challenging periods of Kabul’s political history – before, during and after the Taliban. Semi-ethnographic insights are generously offered from an outsider-insider story of a bookseller who treasured and protected Afghanistan’s written history, and his family. Despite hardship, poverty, threats, violence and abuse the family protect and treasure important books from the repressive intolerance of the Taliban regime. The bookseller positions himself as neutral; selling whatever people are prepared to buy, often stocking diametrically political perspectives.

The book emerges from a Norwegian journalist who was hospitably accommodated by the bookseller’s family; learning about their past, exploring the perspectives and stories of each of the family members. She promises to tell the story of the family and its important role in protecting the cultural history of Afghanistan. She records the stories of the bookseller and his family, and in so doing brings to light his harsh and abusive side.

The Bookseller of Kabul offers interesting insights into Afghanistan in different periods; into the clash of cultures; the value of books; and intra-family power dynamics and abuse.

The successful publication and sales of this book created its own story: the ethics of receiving and benefiting from the hospitality of a family while producing a work which is deeply critical of the (superficially disguised) host himself and his relationships with family and others.

Insightful but troubling...
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- Anthony

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-02-2006
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK