The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“Be careful all the time: don’t ever let your guard down and get comfortable, even for a moment, because that’s all it takes for them to arrest you.”
This true-life memoir tells the story of Kamila Sidiqi and her sisters, living in Kabul, Afghanistan under Taliban rule. When the regime took over the city and imposed strict rules on the women of the community, including banning them from school and from working outside the home, the girls had to band together and create a new way of life, including creating a dressmaking business out of their home that enabled not only their survival, but that of many women in their community.
The story itself was interesting, one of the survival of a family against all odds, and a brief glimse into the everyday lives of the people in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. I haven’t read up much on this modern-day setting, so some of it was interesting just to see what things are like in other parts of the world. I do now have a greater awareness of women’s issues in Afghanistan, and since that seems to be the author’s goal in writing this story, I suppose it was successful.
I did, however, keep waiting for something to happen, but aside from a couple minor, anxious encounters with the Taliban, there was no real climax to the story. Perhaps it was due to translation issues, but the dialogue didn’t seem to flow naturally. I also had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. Aside from Kamila herself, I repeatedly confused the names of her sisters and the other women whom she had working for her. I had a hard time getting any sense of the time that was passing; when at one point the narrator mentioned it had been four years since they started their business, I was shocked, since it had made it seem like all of the events prior happened over the course of a few weeks or months. I also though that the introduction was ridiculously long for such a short book, and I didn’t seem at all necessary to the story.
Overall: A short, simple read for those interested in modern-day women’s issues, particularly in the Middle East, but not really my cup of tea.