The Bookseller of Kabul was one of many books listed on my bucket list of books to read and quickly became one of my many favorite reads.
This post was inspired by The Bookseller of Kabul, with real photo's of the bookshop itself. Pictured opposite is the real man behind the story Shah Muhammad Rais.
Yes it's an International bestseller, but what I've come to learn since having read this extraordinary book first published in 2002 is how much controversy the Author Asne Seierstad caused due to telling the story of Sultan Khan (Shah Muhammad Rais).
It surprises me that Shah Muhammad Rais found this account of his life so incorrectly depicted, especially when the Author shared four months of her life in Shah's home to write of his and his families experiences as Afghani's. How welcoming they had been, how open, honest they were with Asne, and how careful Asne consciously made the effort in telling their story through their own words and feelings.
Asne writes the foreward appearing to be so aware in maintaining anonymity, telling a story as she puts it, in literary form, while based on real events.
It's easy to read this story wondering if it's actually fiction or fact; sign of a good writer many would agree!
There's always two sides to every story though isn't there?
It's reported that Shah Muhammad Rais and his family sought asylum in Norway as political refugee's after things revealed about them from the publishing of the book made life in Afghanistan unsafe. Shah then went on to publishing his own book, Once upon a time was a bookseller in Kabul, which tells his own story.
September 10 2003
LET THERE BE LIGHT
By: Shah M Rais
It was my heartfelt desire to come to Norway and say hello to newfound Norwegian friends who had read a book, which was supposed to accurately depict my lifelong struggle against fundamentalism, tyranny and illiteracy in Afghanistan from the window of Asne's home. I never dreamed that the opposite circumstances would have arisen, circumstances that I never could have imagined when I extended to her my hospitality, precious time, and the benefits of my experience during a moment of tragedy and crisis for my country and the world. Instead of writing a true portrait of my family, my country, and myself she has closed the window on truth, defaming all of us in her cold desire for money, believing that the low and the salacious would sell better than the high and the honest. In this she has proved temporarily correct, but there is too much light flowing through the many windows opened by honest people during the global ordeal that terrorism has caused for such a hollow victory to last.
She has told the press that she has written or said nothing to put me in danger.