Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I have just completed a beautiful book 'The Bookseller of Kabul', written by Asne Seirstad, a Norwegian author. She worked as a war correspondent and has reported on various wars all over the world. This book has been written in Norwegian and has been translated into various languages.

This book is a true story of Sultan Khan who resisted all the authorities and sold books in Kabul for more than twenty years. He was tortured and imprisoned and many of his books were set on fire, but nothings could deter his passion for books. The author Asna decided to stay with Sultan's family to understand life in Afghanistan. Sultan welcomed her and she spent four months with the family. She beautifully narrates Sultan's passion for books amidst political turmoil and gives us a wonderful insight in life of the people of Afghanistan.

The language is simple and appealing. As a reader, I felt one among the characters undergoing those experiences. Sultan's family like many other Afghans have faced years of political unrest, with their lives oscillating between warlords, local chiefs etc. Sultan himself was born in  a poor family, but his parents ensured that he attended school. This is where his love for books started. He used to collect old manuscripts, hide them lest his books might be burnt. He bought crates and crates of books on Persian history, poetry, art, literature etc. He had a rare collection of manuscripts and he published literature of every regime. even in prison, he bribed officials to get books on history, poetry etc.

Sultan's has a large family, and this book parallely describes  members of his family and how they are affected by the changes in Afghanistan. This book provides an insight into changing lives of women under different regimes. I thouroughtly enjoyed reading, specially the way the author desribes wearing the burkha and how she feels the experience of wearing it. 

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