Bookseller of Kabul

616 Words3 Pages
The East appears to be inscrutable, mysterious, and inferior to Western eyes. These judgments are at the heart of Orientalism, a term coined by Edward Said in the 1970s to describe the attitude the West has in (re)presenting the East to the rest of the world and also, quite ironically, to itself. Novelists can have a bias towards one country or religion based on where they come from, which causes them to misunderstand other cultures. Needless to say, some pieces of nonfiction are without such ideas. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad is a novel that relays greater truths and illustrates the obscure ways that journalism portrays events, which might not actually be truthful, and the cultural differences viewed by an outsider looking in. Seierstad claims in the forward that a family she met in Afghanistan "inspired [her]" to write her book. Right away she tells her readers that this is a novel, not a news article. Since she chooses to write her account in story form, she shows readers that this is her side of the tale. In literature, there is no objectivity – bias is assumed. Seierstad wants to comment on this family, which is why she chooses to write her story in a familiar and personal way. However, because what she writes about is technically a true story, Seierstad is forced to call her work nonfiction, and calling Bookseller fiction would be incorrect. Though she tries to steer readers away from believing her work is a piece of journalism, her story is nevertheless judged as an inaccurate and biased news article. The topic of Bookseller also brings Seierstad’s objectivity into the spotlight. She is a Caucasian woman writing about an Afghan family, so her inaccuracies about the actual happenings of the family’s life are highlighted and labeled as racist. The Los Angeles Times, published an article in which Shah Muhammad Rais said Seierstad came to
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