Two weeks after September 11th, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad went to Afghanistan to report on the conflict there. In the following spring she returned to live with an Afghan family for several months. For more than 20 years Sultan Khan defied the authorities - be they Communist or Taliban - in order to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the Communists, and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. He even resorted to hiding most of his stock in attics all over Kabul. But while Khan is passionate in his love of books and hatred of censorship, he is also a committed Muslim with strict views on family life. As an outsider, Seierstad is able to move between the private world of the women - including Khan's two wives - and the more public lives of the men. And so we learn of proposals and marriages, suppression and abuse of power, crime and punishment. The result is a moving portrait of a family and a clear-eyed assessment of a country struggling to free itself from history.
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Asne Seierstad (born 1970) has worked as a war correspondent in Russia, China, Kosovo and Iraq. Two weeks after 9/11 she went to Afghanistan and reported on the conflict for various Scandinavian papers and TV. She has received numerous awards in Norway for her journalism.From Publishers Weekly:
After living for three months with the Kabul bookseller Sultan Khan in the spring of 2002, Norwegian journalist Seierstad penned this astounding portrait of a nation recovering from war, undergoing political flux and mired in misogyny and poverty. As a Westerner, she has the privilege of traveling between the worlds of men and women, and though the book is ostensibly a portrait of Khan, its real strength is the intimacy and brutal honesty with which it portrays the lives of Afghani living under fundamentalist Islam. Seierstad also expertly outlines Sultan's fight to preserve whatever he can of the literary life of the capital during its numerous decades of warfare (he stashed some 10,000 books in attics around town). Seierstad, though only 31, is a veteran war reporter and a skilled observer; as she hides behind her burqa, the men in the Sultan's family become so comfortable with her presence that she accompanies one of Sultan's sons on a religious pilgrimage and witnesses another buy sex from a beggar girl-then offer her to his brother. This is only one of many equally shocking stories Seierstad uncovers. In another, an adulteress is suffocated by her three brothers as ordered by their mother. Seierstad's visceral account is equally seductive and repulsive and resembles the work of Martha Gellhorn. An international bestseller, it will likely stand as one of the best books of reportage of Afghan life after the fall of the Taliban.
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Book Description Back Bay Books, Little, Brown, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11035624301X