I devoured “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” due to the shocking story of Kamila and her sisters trying to survive under the oppressive reign of the Taliban. Kamila’s life changes drastically when the Taliban takes over her town, forcing her and her sisters to wear chadris, which fully cover their bodies, and to remain home unless accompanied by a male relative. Kamila’s story of how she managed to create a dressmaking empire amidst the harsh rule that women cannot work is truly inspirational. She learns the trade, and turns it into a business that provided money for her family, which ensured their survival in a war zone where jobs were scarce. Kamila’s business was so successful that she was able to employe other women from the neighborhood, which allowed them to support their families as well. The story was exciting and jumped off the page.
I was really taken with Kamila’s strength and determination. Even going into town to inquire with shop owners to see if they would buy dresses from her was dangerous because she could be stopped by the police anytime without reason. Although the book was a biography, it read like a work of fiction because of the excellent writing. Initially, I didn’t really want to read a book focused on fabric, needles, and thread, but that aspect didn’t overshadow the book. Rather, it provided a unique backdrop to learn about how a young women of Khair Khana would thrive in war. Living under a government that thinks banning music, art, television, education and writing is healthy and productive for the citizens is simply unimaginable. Significantly, Kamila never attempts to leave the country. This dedication to her country and neighbors was striking. Her strength and drive was remarkable and made it enjoyable to read about her.
Learning about the political turmoil was fascinating. This was a great story that was well written. Anyone who read “The Thousand Splendid Suns” would truly enjoy this book as well. Though the novel focuses on the situation created by the Taliban, any reader who enjoys a strong heroine would enjoy this book.