genre: narrative nonfiction
synopsis: seierstad opens a window into the lives of a bookseller in kabul and his extended family
setting: kabul, afghanistan & the peshawar region of pakistan in 2002
what i appreciated: this book focuses a lot on the lack of opportunities for afghan women and what (few) changes occurred since the taliban fled. it’s an insightful read and i liked that it included a short overview of afghani history from the 1950s forward (it’s crafted as part of the narrative, so doesn’t read dryly at all).
what rent my heart: reading about how hard life is for so many of the people there. the bookseller’s family is relatively well off, but that doesn’t mean there’s equal opportunity for everyone in it. the bookseller’s youngest sister had my particular empathy.
before i go on, i want to make a disclaimer: as best i can, i will be providing trigger warnings for each of the books i review on my blog. in case you are unfamiliar with the purpose of a trigger warning, or in case you think they’re silly: trigger warnings are intended for people who have been through traumatic events, so that they are not blindsided by an experience that may re-traumatize them.
trigger warnings: rape (including that of a child), physical abuse
final thoughts: the people – and particularly the women – of afghanistan do not lead easy lives, and that hardship is starkly chronicled. if you’re interested in learning more about the culture of afghanistan and the challenges faced by those who live there, this is likely a book you would appreciate for what it does. seierstad’s writing style is narrative with journalistic elements, which she does well, and i’d definitely be willing to read more of her work.