Library Ed. Recorded Books/ Clipper Audio 2004
CS ISBN 1841979635 $59.75 Six cassettes
CD ISBN 1402588690 $69.75/ $13.50(R) Seven CDs
Norwegian journalist Seierstad lived several months with the family of "Sultan Khan," an Afghan book merchant and "free-thinking liberal" who has suffered jailings and beatings for preserving Afghan books and culture. Yet he wants Rushdie dead, routinely oppresses his wives, children, and other relatives, and is hard, petty, and grasping. The others depicted are by turns greedy, feckless, mean, or pitiable. Both how they are like us and how they are alien will distress, even appall, the listener. Joanna David gives Seierstad's narration in clipped British English, but renders Afghan voices in a shrill, urgent accent, almost a hiss; the "rational first-world observer vs. uncivilized third-worlders" subtext is unfortunate. Still, she delivers with brutal clarity Seierstad's finely observed picture of a wretched Afghanistan and a wretched human race. W.M. (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine [Published: AUG/ SEP 04]
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