Friday, August 13, 2004

The Bookseller of Kabul

I finally finished 'The Bookseller of Kabul' by Asne Seierstad last weekend. I read it partly before and partly after my holiday, not the best way to read a book really. I hadn't heard much hype about it and when I discovered it was the story of a family in Kabul, told by a Norwegian war reporter I was fascinated.

Through my own preconceptions I imagined a Norwegian woman would do a good job of such a project. I always imagine Scandinavian countries to be scrupulously fair and open so I had no concerns about exploitation or similar. I was half way through the book when I realised there was a huge controversy about this book - as the man of the family feels that he has been defamed by its strongly feminist stance.

This article puts the issues in a very clear way - I have two concerns - one is that how can the Afghan family if they have no or little contact with the UK/US/Europe know if they agree with the writing of the book and the purpose to which the information has been put. I am also frustrated that according to the article, Seierstad has made so much money from the book, and the family have made none. Clearly Seierstad deserves renumeration for her work, and bringing the stories of Afghan people out of Afghanistan is a wonderful thing, but many of this families problems would be alleviated by a bit more cash.
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