by Amalia

I’ve been very interested in Afghanistan ever since I read Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner which provided me an insight about the country and how cruel the Taliban was. When I first came to the Netherlands, I met an Afghan guy who quickly became a friend. He came to the Netherlands after being granted asylum about 7 years ago and took a Dutch citizenship a few years afterwards. Although not explicitly, he told me that he was thrown in Taliban prison by the regime. I asked him whether Hosseini did an honest portray about Afghan society, and he said yes.

Today, I just finished reading The Bookseller of Kabul written by a Norwegian journalist Ã…sne Seierstad. The book tells a story surrounding the life of a bookseller named Sultan Khan and his large family in Kabul. The author got the chance to live with the family for three months which allowed her to peak through their unique everyday lives. But as I read more pages of the book, I realized that the author focused too much on the negative and backward aspects of Afghan culture, and ignored the fact that Afghanistan had something positive to offer too! I couldn’t help thinking the reaction of the whole family, especially Khan who was depicted as a very unforgiving, merciless,  and authoritarian person.

So I tried to google it and found this interesting article. It turned out that Seierstad was sued for her "inaccurate and invasive" stories by Shah Muhammad Rais, the real Sultan Khan. The court found her guilty of defamation and "negligent journalistic practices" and ordered her to pay more than 31,000 euro in damages to his second wife. The case did not end until here. The other seven members of the family also planned to sue her!

Oh well, the stories that followed are as interesting as the stories in the book :D.