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Seierstad is a Norwegian journalist who came to Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance in 2001.  She soon met an Afghani bookseller named Sultan Khan.  After visiting his bookshop and getting to know him, Seierstad decided to write a book about Sultan and his family.  In order to gather the information necessary to do this accurately, she moved into Sultan’s home and lived the life of an Afghani woman with Sultan’s family.

The Bookseller of Kabul is not Seierstad’s story.  It is the story of Sultan Khan’s family, as seen through their own eyes.  As a Western woman, it was hard for me to read.  Although Sultan’s family is relatively well-off for a family in Afghanistan, the women in his family are treated as slaves in my mind.  It’s hard for me to imagine letting my father, mother, brothers and male cousins decide when I could leave the house, if I could get a job, what job I could get, whom I could like, and whom I could marry.  The hopelessness that some of the women expressed is heartbreaking.  This is not a “happily ever after, against all odds” type of story.  It is a simple account of life as it really is for one Afghani family.