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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (audiobook) by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

A glimpse behind the veil in Taliban-held Afghanistan

Read by Sarah Zimmerman
Duration: 6 hours, 16 minutes
Publisher: Harper Audio, 2011

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon had an interest in how women survive in male-dominated war zones. In the modern world, the war zone is, all too often, not a distant battlefield, but instead includes cities, small towns and plenty of women and children. She was interested in the types of businesses women might open in order to feed their families and she was given the name of Kamila Sidiqi, a college-educated woman who lived through the Taliban invasion of Kabul.

Kamila Sidiqi (right)
Kamila Sidiqi considered fleeing to Pakistan or Iran but decided that she would stay in Kabul with most of her family. Women were mostly confined to their homes, unless accompanied by a male "minder" to do the shopping. They were certainly not supposed to attend school, have a job or own a business. Kamila Sidiqi does all of these things during the Taliban occupation, and of course her dressmaking business is the true topic of the book. Through a combination of prudence, grit and diplomacy she is able to open a dressmaking business and add employee after employee in her home-based factory. She is the CEO, the head salesman and a quiet spokesperson for women's rights in an environment that treats women more like cattle than equals.

Kamila Sidiqi's story is inspiring, even if Lemmon's telling of it is understated. Sarah Zimmerman's narration adds a surprising depth to the story, invoking a sense of warmth as she reads.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Reviewed on October 22, 2011

1 comment:

  1. The Dressmaker reveals a society where education is paramount not only for self-actualization, but for survival. Themes of courage, honesty, work-ethic, family, education, and civility run counter to and in spite of the Taliban's brutal, restrictive, and menacing presence. Family members help one another. Risks are taken for survival. With only intermittent electricity, long hours are required to complete work, that is scrutinized to high standards. The infrastructure may be broken, but people help one another to communicate information and to assist where they can. Despite living a fractured, isolated existence, the individuals in this story demonstrate a resilient ethos.