Thursday, December 2, 2010


Some of my students are reading a fascinating book by Asne Seierstad called The Bookseller of Kabul. Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, the book follows each of the family members of a man who has sold books throughout Afghanistan's changing regimes, many of which have rewritten their country's history and banned new sets of books. Fascinating as his story is, the book devotes its time to his family, focusing increasingly at the harsh lives the women in the family lead. (My students often comment on the author's decision not to include herself in the story, though she clearly makes her opinions known through her organization and choice of events--I love inviting students to consider the choices the writer makes in creating a book.) One memorable chapter describes preparation for a wedding, in which the author describes trying to follow two of the women of the family (dressed in burkas) through a crowded market filled with burkas. The descriptions of the following wedding shares some notable resemblances to this Uzbec wedding in Tajikastan that my friend Bethany Gustafson photo-documents here. For example, the bride must not smile, else it will be thought that she is happy to lead her parents' home.

Coming soon: a review of Gary Paulsen's Winter Dance.

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