The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

If you wish to even begin to understand Afghanistan, you must read this very fine book. Previously, I had read A Thousand Splendid Suns, which was excellent (even better than The Kite Runner), but The Bookseller of Kabul, written in a simple straightforward manner, gave me a more clear picture of life in that country.

This is a non-fiction account of a springtime author Norwegian journalist Asne Seierstad spent with one family in Afghanistan. She was able to spend time alone with the women, something no male journalist would have been allowed. Just as it was in Khaled Hosseini’s novel, we find a story of women horribly oppressed by their own religion and society.

Though, Sultan Khan’s family is well off by the living standards of his country, they still live without electricity, a television, or even a radio. There is no furniture; a hole in the floor is their toilet. A twelve year old son works seven days a week, twelve hours a day. Indeed, the crushing poverty of Afghanistan oppresses them all.

Smoothly translated into English by Ingrid Christophersen, this is a fast enjoyable, but most importantly, an informative read. Highly recommended.