Bookseller of Kabul

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Contemporary Perspectives
Bookseller of Kabul
March 1st, 2010

In this paper I will discuss family life in Afghanistan. After reading “The Bookseller of Kabul” and doing some research on other Afghan families I believe that the Khan family is almost the same as a typical Afghan family. Yes, there are some differences but in the end they act and live as most others in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a country that has been divided by several ethnic groups, with the two most relevant being the Pashtun and the Tajik. It is hard to determine the percentage of the population that compromises each ethnic group due to the lack of census in the countries for many years. However, the CIA World factbook gives a rough estimate: Pashtun 42 percent and Tajik 27 percent (CIA World Factbook). Although variation exists between these ethnic groups living in Afghanistan, the family remains the single most valuable institution in Afghan society (Andrews, Boyle and Carr, 329). Typical families in Afghanistan live in small units with their extended family. Many times, more than five people share a room because of the limited space available for all family members. We can see this illustrated in the Khan family from the book “The bookseller of Kabul” where at one point thirteen people occupied a four bedroom unit (Seierstad, 175). When it comes to marriage the Khan family keeps the traditions of a typical Afghan family. “Marriage is a contract between families or within families. Decisions are made according to the advantages the marriage brings to the tribe – feelings are rarely taken into consideration” (Seierstad, 37). As stated in the book, love does not take part in the decision making process when arranging a marriage. Most Afghan families find themselves in the position of having to sell their daughters off to get married with older men because they plainly needed the money to survive (Najibullah, 1). Women in Afghanistan and those who are a part of the Khan family are...
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