Monday, 2 November 2009

The BookSeller of Kabal

You don't have to lie about anyone because the truth about everyone is bad enough.

Mark told me right off: "You are going to get very angry with this book. You are going to go after Sultan Khan and his son with a spoon."
Mark was right: I did get angry reading this book.
Much of it was indeed in part because of Sultan Khan and his seven-teen year old son Mansur, how each treated the memebers of the family.
But most of it was the author herself.
It is just after the fall of the Taliban. War reporter Asne Seierstad, finds a bookshop and meets an elegant gryhaired man, the owner of the bookshop. After several visits, Anse is invited to Sultan Khan (not his real name) for the evening meal.
Here, the reporter meets many of Sultan's family and she decides she wishes to write a book about Sultan and his family.
He agrees.
She states shw would need to live with him and his family.
He agrees and so for three months Asne is part of the Khan family, experiencing first hand his family life in the newly liberated city.
I frankly thought I would read a story about  the BookSeller of Kabul; about how he came to be a seller of books, his customers and stories about the books themselves. I even had this imgaine of his telling stories to his family and friends, much like 1001 Arabian Nights.
It wasn't.
Yes, one does learn how Sultan became a lover and sell of books, how he kept his business going. But it stops there.
The stories of the Bathing House, a family wedding and a trip to the Bazaar are the highlights of the book. How women in burkas  keep track of each other; by looking down for familiar shoes. That the BathHouse is one of those few places women have some freedoms, can feel clean and fresh, even if it is for a short time.
Over the weekend, I had to pu the book down. I was becoming the women I was reading about.
I have a few more chapters to go, but I fear this is no happy ending in sight.
I find it interesting, but I shall not read this book again.
Nor do I recommend it.
Post a Comment