Book Reviews of The Bookseller of Kabul

The Bookseller of Kabul
The Bookseller of Kabul
Author: Asne Seierstad, Ingrid Christophersen (Translator)
ISBN-13: 9780316159418
ISBN-10: 0316159417
Publication Date: 10/26/2004
Pages: 320
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 299

3.8 stars, based on 299 ratings
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

62 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 174 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
I really enjoyed this book. A look into the lives of a modern Afghan family through the eyes of a journalist from Sweden. She lived with this family for three months and wrote about her experiences with them. As a western woman, the treatment of women was disturbing, but I have to remember that this is their culture, not mine, and that is to be respected.
For me, this is one more book and means along the way to understanding the rest of the world.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 174 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Chilling account of life in Afghanistan, especially for the women. The consequences of almost constant war for the people and the change from one regime to another from one day to the next leaves confusion in the minds of the young people and a clinging to the old ways as a way to make sense of it all.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 88 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Not bad for an updated view of Afgan society, but I found it heavily filtered through Western eyes.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
Helpful Score: 3
Just a fascinating account of life in Afghanistan, particularly as it relates to women. Written in "novel" form, but actually nonfiction journalism. Terrific read.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Very interesting insight of Afghanistan but does not have a strong story line. It really is just a brief look at a true life family and their daily life.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 194 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I couldn't put the book down. After a while I started feeling negative towards Sultan even though he was the bookseller and even though he treated his wives and children the way his culture and religion taught him a man should treat them. I particularly felt sorry for the women in the book.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 644 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Everyone here rated this book around 4*, I rate it 1/2* and here is why:

The book was choppy and has disorganized timeframe. Hard to read, as the story is jumping from between years and people from page to page, you often get Taliban, American, and Russian eras mixed together in that order on the same page. The story line is weak and wavers between different characters and side stories, and mingles with the narrators story.
The only time the book got interesting was when the author was telling side story of one of the unimportant characters, the bookseller's shuned first wife, the carpenter, or the poor relation (10 year old boy) he made into his personal slave (for food).

This book can open a picture for a clueless person into one man's life in Taliban ruined country. But you don't get a clear picture of women or the lifes of other people under Taliban's rule. Someone who has been in that area can see that this is a common story of a cruel man made into passive-hero because of his ability to be shrude and plagerising businessman. (Anyone who experienced totalism knows the value of forbidden articles on the black market and the risks of selling/owning them.) His story is not special, his character is over glamorized and the writing is hard to follow.

I don't see what made the female author so impressed about this heartless, showinistic, and selfish example of humanity to return to Kabul and put him into this book. The man was selling mostly postcards not books, he made big show of 'resisting' Taliban but he him self would have been happy if the man (carpenter) who stole a pack of his postcards (plagerised pictures reprinted) to have his hand cut off as the Islamic fundamentalist would have done. The author never notes that taking someone's work: be it postcards or authors rights to the pictures is stealing. She glamorizes the bookseller but condems the carpenter, and yet they are both thiefs. The only difference is that the carpenter is stealing for survival and the 'book' seller for greed.

The book it self is like the main character, interesting enough to keep you plowing thrugh the 80% of blah. The story or the writing is mediocar at best. There are others, worthy of having their story told, those who took greater risks, Secret teachers, TV-satelite-PC-music-alcohol sellers who did live on the edge, not to mention the northren resistance...
Honestly request "Dear Zari: The Secret Lives of the Women" instead.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
Helpful Score: 2
If you are really interested in other cultures and how it would be to live in entirely different circumstances you might look for "The Bookseller of Kabul". It's not fiction. It's the story of an Afghanistani family told by Norwegian woman writer names Asne Seierstad. Because Seierstad was European and blond and a newspaper correspondant the family head, who was a bit of an outlaw himself, thought of her as neither male nor female but a different species of fish altogether. As such, he invited her to live in his family where she was free to move within the intimate worlds of the men and the women of the household and the city of Kabul.

Seirstad walked around Kabul, sometimes in her Western journalistic garb and sometimes in a burka gathering details you won't get access to anywhere else. Her story reads like a novel once you get into it and has at least as much drama. Her writing is excellent and her access to information that we have practically no source for incredible and even mind-blowing. If you've been paying any attention, you will want to pull out your hair at the conclusion.

You may find, like me, that it's a way of life that is perplexing and maddening. But you'll get an unparalled peek at what a woman living in that kind of Islamic society (there are all kinds after all just like there are a vary of Western ways of life) deals with on a day to day basis and in trying to shape her own destiny.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
Helpful Score: 1
A good book that should be taken with a grain of salt. It felt very biased. I would reccomend reading Kabul Beauty School to anyone who has read or plans to read this book.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
Helpful Score: 1
Political propaganda- period. Having lived in the middle east for 10 years I can tell you that this book was written for no other purpose that to create/perpetuate a negative stero type of middle easterners/muslims. Not just written through western eyes, but with an eye toward perpetuating negative attitudes.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 404 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was an interesting look at the lives of people in Afghanistan during and after the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the Taliban rule in the 1990s. One scene that has stayed with me is when the women in the burqas have to know what shoes each is wearing so they don't lose each other.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 141 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I have read a number of books this year about Afghanistan; its culture and its people. I have read The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns,and One about a western style beauty parlor in Kabul run by an American Woman. This book, The Bookseller of Kabul is the best at describing the conditions Afghani women must endure within the family. This book is the story of a man who is the successful father in a middle class family and the relationship he has with the 2 wives, children and other members of his large extended family. This book really describes the male and female mind-set better than any other I have read. When you finish it you will be so glad that you live in the U. S.
Genny
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I just didn't love this book. I had a difficult time getting into it.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Dry story of a family's struggles in politically unsettled Afghanistan with a focus on the home life. I liked Not Without My Daugher better.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 65 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
When I ordered this book I thought it was a novel of fiction. A sobering account of life in Afghanistan before/during/after the Taliban,I finished the book being thankful to be born in America.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 57 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Enjoyed the author's style. She was able to give a glimpse of life in Afghanistan without being judgemental.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 644 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Everyone here rated this book around 4*, I rate it 1/2* and here is why:

The book was choppy and has disorganized timeframe. Hard to read, as the story is jumping from between years and people from page to page, you often get Taliban, American, and Russian eras mixed together in that order on the same page. The story line is weak and wavers between different characters and side stories, and mingles with the narrators story.
The only time the book got interesting was when the author was telling side story of one of the unimportant characters, the bookseller's shuned first wife, the carpenter, or the poor relation (10 year old boy) he made into his personal slave (for food).

This book can open a picture for a clueless person into one man's life in Taliban ruined country. But you don't get a clear picture of women or the lifes of other people under Taliban's rule. Someone who has been in that area can see that this is a common story of a cruel man made into passive-hero because of his ability to be shrude and plagerising businessman. (Anyone who experienced totalism knows the value of forbidden articles on the black market and the risks of selling/owning them.) His story is not special, his character is over glamorized and the writing is hard to follow.

I don't see what made the female author so impressed about this heartless, showinistic, and selfish example of humanity to return to Kabul and put him into this book. The man was selling mostly postcards not books, he made big show of 'resisting' Taliban but he him self would have been happy if the man (carpenter) who stole a pack of his postcards (plagerised pictures reprinted) to have his hand cut off as the Islamic fundamentalist would have done. The author never notes that taking someone's work: be it postcards or authors rights to the pictures is stealing. She glamorizes the bookseller but condems the carpenter, and yet they are both thiefs. The only difference is that the carpenter is stealing for survival and the 'book' seller for greed.

The book it self is like the main character, interesting enough to keep you plowing thrugh the 80% of blah. The story or the writing is mediocar at best. There are others, worthy of having their story told, those who took greater risks, Secret teachers, TV-satelite-PC-music-alcohol sellers who did live on the edge, not to mention the northren resistance...
Honestly request "Dear Zari: The Secret Lives of the Women" instead.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 644 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Everyone here rated this book around 4*, I rate it 1/2* and here is why:

The book was choppy and has disorganized timeframe. Hard to read, as the story is jumping from between years and people from page to page, you often get Taliban, American, and Russian eras mixed together in that order on the same page. The story line is weak and wavers between different characters and side stories, and mingles with the narrators story.
The only time the book got interesting was when the author was telling side story of one of the unimportant characters, the bookseller's shuned first wife, the carpenter, or the poor relation (10 year old boy) he made into his personal slave (for food).

This book can open a picture for a clueless person into one man's life in Taliban ruined country. But you don't get a clear picture of women or the lifes of other people under Taliban's rule. Someone who has been in that area can see that this is a common story of a cruel man made into passive-hero because of his ability to be shrude and plagerising businessman. (Anyone who experienced totalism knows the value of forbidden articles on the black market and the risks of selling/owning them.) His story is not special, his character is over glamorized and the writing is hard to follow.

I don't see what made the female author so impressed about this heartless, showinistic, and selfish example of humanity to return to Kabul and put him into this book. The man was selling mostly postcards not books, he made big show of 'resisting' Taliban but he him self would have been happy if the man (carpenter) who stole a pack of his postcards (plagerised pictures reprinted) to have his hand cut off as the Islamic fundamentalist would have done. The author never notes that taking someone's work: be it postcards or authors rights to the pictures is stealing. She glamorizes the bookseller but condems the carpenter, and yet they are both thiefs. The only difference is that the carpenter is stealing for survival and the 'book' seller for greed.

The book it self is like the main character, interesting enough to keep you plowing thrugh the 80% of blah. The story or the writing is mediocar at best. There are others, worthy of having their story told, those who took greater risks, Secret teachers, TV-satelite-PC-music-alcohol sellers who did live on the edge, not to mention the northren resistance...
Honestly request "Dear Zari: The Secret Lives of the Women" instead.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting perspective of an Afghan home and family. The challenges faced by the women, especially, are hard to imagine. The male head of the household rules completely. All others (including sons and less important brothers)are treated as slaves. Eye opening and fascinating true story.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Seierstad tells the story of a middle class Afghan family. The daily life and circumstances are so different than that of Americans, but the family element can be related to. It's upsetting that women have no voice, and almost shocking that old traditions are still clung to. At the same time, it humanizes a culture that for most Americans, is usually only viewed on CNN. An excellent read.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 644 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Everyone here rated this book around 4*, I rate it 1/2* and here is why:

The book was choppy and has disorganized timeframe. Hard to read, as the story is jumping from between years and people from page to page, you often get Taliban, American, and Russian eras mixed together in that order on the same page. The story line is weak and wavers between different characters and side stories, and mingles with the narrators story.
The only time the book got interesting was when the author was telling side story of one of the unimportant characters, the bookseller's shuned first wife, the carpenter, or the poor relation (10 year old boy) he made into his personal slave (for food).

This book can open a picture for a clueless person into one man's life in Taliban ruined country. But you don't get a clear picture of women or the lifes of other people under Taliban's rule. Someone who has been in that area can see that this is a common story of a cruel man made into passive-hero because of his ability to be shrude and plagerising businessman. (Anyone who experienced totalism knows the value of forbidden articles on the black market and the risks of selling/owning them.) His story is not special, his character is over glamorized and the writing is hard to follow.

I don't see what made the female author so impressed about this heartless, showinistic, and selfish example of humanity to return to Kabul and put him into this book. The man was selling mostly postcards not books, he made big show of 'resisting' Taliban but he him self would have been happy if the man (carpenter) who stole a pack of his postcards (plagerised pictures reprinted) to have his hand cut off as the Islamic fundamentalist would have done. The author never notes that taking someone's work: be it postcards or authors rights to the pictures is stealing. She glamorizes the bookseller but condems the carpenter, and yet they are both thiefs. The only difference is that the carpenter is stealing for survival and the 'book' seller for greed.

The book it self is like the main character, interesting enough to keep you plowing thrugh the 80% of blah. The story or the writing is mediocar at best. There are others, worthy of having their story told, those who took greater risks, Secret teachers, TV-satelite-PC-music-alcohol sellers who did live on the edge, not to mention the northren resistance...
Honestly request "Dear Zari: The Secret Lives of the Women" instead.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
Great book
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 12 more book reviews
From the perspective of the Western world, Kabul is an unknown. This book shed light on that for me, even though it stressed that the family involved was not typical. I enjoyed it and would love to find another book like it.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 10 more book reviews
Excellent peek into the daily trials of Kabul citizens. It takes a while to get into the story of the Khan family, but some of the character ( rather real people ) in this story are haunting.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 92 more book reviews
I am so thankful to be an American woman with rights and privileges. This book is reality in the rest of the world for women and scares the life out of me. So thankful for a happy ending.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 3 more book reviews
Fascinating tale of everyday life in Afganistan. The culture is unbelievable.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 5 more book reviews
For more then twenty 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 streets...
This is a true story....
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 70 more book reviews
This book was very interesting and clearly shows the everyday lives of women.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 95 more book reviews
A really honest account of life in Afghanistan. It is told through the eyes of a female journalist who is able to move between the very segregated lives of men and women in this country, even though she herself if female. You see how life was pre and post 9/11 over there as well. Along with A Thousand Splendid Suns, I feel I understand more about this country and its turmoils. I really enjoyed this book.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 77 more book reviews
Excellent! This is on the required reading list for those deploying to Afghanistan. My husband recommended it, and I resisted. But then I gave it a try - and read it last year and this year. Also, my book club read it. The book is eye opening for what REALLY goes on in Afghan homes. The multi wife situation. The favorite wife situation. The truly dismal living conditions. The plight of Afghan girls. Very interesting to read what is going on in households on the other side of the world.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 569 more book reviews
Good book on how Afghanis live with the war and especially the women. Also gives a good exposition of the family life and marital situation, burka and all.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 557 more book reviews
There are so many positive reviews about this book. I wonder if there is room for another review. I had a hard time enjoying this book at first cause I had read two other works of fiction, and 2 true stories and this was not as descriptive or as entertaining. So when there are so many positive reviews you wonder what others are getting from the book that you didnt. If you start reading this book and feel this way dont give up. Keep reading. I did find the book got better and more interesting. I esp liked that one of the older daughters gets married and the details that are described and explained.

A few things that made this hard was that many of the characters names started with the Letter S. and it took some time to keep all the family member straight.

This was written by a female reporter but it didnt feel like she was telling the story it felt more like the family was telling the story themselves. I could feel each characters frustration and despair. This book is not all about bad treatment of women but how the whole family feels trapped and defeated by the events in their lives and their country.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 32 more book reviews
Having been to Afghanistan I was very interested in this book but must admit that I lost interest in it after only reading about half of it. Can't give a full review - what I read was a little dry and my mind kept wandering.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 35 more book reviews
Interesting read with a lot of generalities of the culture. Makes you realize how repressed the women are in this culture and to me that makes it lop sided and missing out on an awful lot of things they could add to community. It is ironic that the picture on the front is of two women at the book stall......when many of the women were denied an education so they can't read.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 4 more book reviews
Excellent read to give insight into the Afghan culture with rich details and story.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 18 more book reviews
I was really drawn into this story. It is a close and intimate look at another culture through the eyes of a western woman living with a family in Afghanistan. How very different their lives are. Women are covered by burkas when they leave their homes. And when they are at home, their lives ruled by the men in the family. This is a look at a world most of us will never see.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 4 more book reviews
After reading "Three Cups of Tea" I was inspired to read other books about Pakistan and Afghanistan. This book was very interesting.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 100 more book reviews
A very interesting story of the author's three-month's stay in the home of the Khan family in Afghanistan. She follows various members and gives an intimate portrait of family life in war-torn Kabul.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 45 more book reviews
Eye-opening, depressing, and very even-handed.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 36 more book reviews
This book is highly recommended if you are interested in learning about Afghan culture. Both informative and heartbreaking at times.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 12 more book reviews
A controversial book -- the author was sued by the Bookseller who moved to Norway to do so. It gives a fascinating glimpse of the life of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban's strict rules.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 20 more book reviews
Excellent insight into what daily life is like for Afghan families.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 205 more book reviews
An admirable, revealing portrait of daily life in a country that Washington claims to have liberated but does not begin to understand.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 80 more book reviews
What a vivid and sad tale. I Loved it!
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 87 more book reviews
A revealing portrait of daily life in a country that Washington claims to have liberated but does not begin to understand.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 64 more book reviews
Great perspective and insight into the lives of Afghani people, particularly the women.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 7 more book reviews
Very interesting look into lives of women in a strict Islamic country.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 15 more book reviews
A wonderful view of the plight of Afghan woman in post-Taliban governed Afghanistan.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 51 more book reviews
This book helped me to understand the tragic recent history of Afghanistan and how it became a pivotal player in America's fight against terrorism all at the same time I was enjoying a great read.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 35 more book reviews
A first-hand view in the daily life of a Middle East family. Great book!
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 11 more book reviews
This book gives a realistic glimpse into life in Kabul.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 37 more book reviews
An eye-opening look at life in today's Afghanistan.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 34 more book reviews
A look into the life of an Afghan family and the risk a man took to sell books to the people of Kabul.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 8 more book reviews
The bookseller of Kabul really opened my eyes to other cultures. The story was intriguing.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 10 more book reviews
Excellent book and documentary on modern day Afghanistan. Great book!!1
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 161 more book reviews
I found this book to be quite thought-provoking and insightful. I encourage people to read it!
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 19 more book reviews
Great portrait of life in Afganistan, something most people cannot even fathom.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on + 107 more book reviews
This book is a riveting glimpse of life in post war Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of one family. It makes you appreciate how much we have and opens your eyes to how much the people of Afghanistan endure on a daily basis just to survive. I finished the book in one sitting and highly recommend it. No sugar coating in this book...be prepared to have your eyes opened and your heart as well.
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
This book presents an excellent picture of life for women in Afghanistan. Very well-written.
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This is a fantastic-can't-put-it-down read! I loved the facts and the entire objective of the author - to write the truth about real life in Kabul since 9/11. What an eye-opener. We have so very far to go with understanding our relationship with Afghanistan. Every US woman and man should read this - and then, probably weep.
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Excellent reading -- I couldn't put it down!
reviewed The Bookseller of Kabul on
My book club read this book and we all found it interesting. It made me grateful for the life I enjoy here.