The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad

Amazon link

Guess what? Life in Afganistan under the Taliban was a bit shit. Particularly if you were a woman. And since the Taliban have gone it’s only got a little bit better.

Seierstad spent a few months living with a family in Kabul soon after the Taliban were removed and this is her interpretation of what she saw. It’s interesting stuff but Seierstad is at pains to point out that this family are far from typical, so it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about the country (or even the city) in general.

And something about the translation into English seems a bit stilted. I’ve noticed the same problems with other books translated from Scandinavian languages (I particularly remember Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow) so maybe it’s an intrinsic problem with translations from those languages.

It was a pretty interesting read, but I’m not sure I’ll be rushing off to read any of her other books.

Here’s an interesting article from the Guardian which includes some details about how the author and the bookseller argued after the book was published.