Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bookseller of Kabul - Åsne Seierstad

This book has been put off a lot, because I was afraid that it would make me really angry. And it did; I was initially really, really angry about the rampant misogyny on display here. However, as I read further, I just got really sad instead. It's sad that these people have been through so much - war, occupation, violent control by religious zealots. It's sad that there are so many people struggling to survive. And it's sad that so many of the people in the book are prevented from doing what they want in life (like go to school or choose their own spouse) by a system that ensures they're at the mercy of the whims of one person. My heart breaks for the people caught in this system. This book is more than 10 years old now, I'd like to know how much things have changed (or haven't) since it was first published. Some quick research shows that the family in this book took exception to it, but I wasn't able to find out a lot. Evidently he wrote his own book, which I'd love to read, but it doesn't seem to have been translated into English at this time.

One thing I feel compelled to mention is that the cultural misogyny and religious zealotry on display in this book is alive and well in the supposedly enlightened Western world. We ignore it at our increasing peril.

As a complete coincidence, I'm also reading The Arabian Nights a little at a time, and I'm struck by how similar the Medieval world in the book is to the culture described in this book.

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