by Asne Seierstad
This is a series of vignettes from the author's 3-month stay in Afghanistan. The Norwegian journalist befriended a bookseller in Kabul, and he agreed to let her live with his family and write their story. Fascinated by the bookseller and his seemingly liberal views (he did go to jail for bookselling), Seierstad soon learned the truth about him. While he was a staunch defender of Afghani literature and culture, he was also a traditionalist (and an absolute despot at home).
More than anything, this is a sad tale about the women of Afghanistan and their treatment by men. They are slaves to the men, and really, their stories are almost universally without hope. The bookseller's sister, Leila, has a story that will break your heart and make you feel grateful for all that you have.
I read this for a book discussion, and I have never seen the group so passionate about a book. This book moved them, and it will move you.