Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe
by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, March 2011  (Unabridged) read by Sarah Zimmerman, 6 hrs, 16 min

The story reads like a novel. There are tense moments and tearful heartwarming triumphs.

In 1996 the Taliban take over Kabul after a grueling civil war and life changes dramatically for the Sadiqi family. The Sadiqi’s, a devout Muslim family of five sisters and two brothers at home are committed to education for their children both boys and girls. Kamila has just completed a university degree in education. Now the Taliban decree that women cannot work outside of the home and in fact cannot leave their homes without a male family member as a chaperone. Her father and older brother are forced to flee the city and Kamila is left to oversee this family. Armed only with her wits and a strong entrepreneurial spirit she proceeds to set up a dressmaking business in her home which in the end not only brings money but also hope and dignity to her family.

The story was told by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a former ABC news producer turned Harvard business student. She traveled to Afghanistan looking for examples of women in business and met Kamila Sadiqi. She developed a close relationship with Kamila that allowed this story to be told rich with detail. I was struck with the similarities of Kamila’s story to entrepreneurs world wide – she had a plan, she developed prototypes, she sold it to tradesmen, she overcame obstacles, she hired workers, and she improved and expanded as she went along. Kamila did all of this under the threat of reprisals from the Taliban and electricity that is available to power sewing machines only sometimes. Like businessmen worldwide she attempts to work around the politics of the current administration, the Taliban. The fact that I loved the best was that Kamila really could not sew very well. 

The story reads like a novel. There are tense moments and tearful heartwarming triumphs. The bravery that these Afghani women show is inspiring. This is a great little book (think Three Cups of Tea) that would be a good read for almost anyone but might be perfect for a teenage girl.

I listened to an audiocopy of this story provided by the publisher

1 comment:

Julie said...

Every single review I read makes me want this book more and more, including yours. I need to read more and faster so that I can treat myself to a new book-buying spree and include this one with it.