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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (Hardcover)
The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil wara rare achievement for any Afghan womanKamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. Former ABC News reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent years on the ground reporting Kamila's story, and the result is an unusually intimate and unsanitized look at the daily lives of women in Afghanistan. These women are not victims; they are the glue that holds families together; they are the backbone and the heart of their nation.
Afghanistan's future remains uncertain as debates over withdrawal timelines dominate the news. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana moves beyond the headlines to transport you to an Afghanistan you have never seen before. This is a story of war, but it is also a story of sisterhood and resilience in the face of despair. Kamila Sidiqi's journey will inspire you, but it will also change the way you think about one of the most important political and humanitarian issues of our time.
About the Author
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributor to the Atlantic's Defense One writing on national security and foreign policy issues. In 2004 she left ABC News to earn her MBA at Harvard, where she began writing about women entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict zones, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She is the bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and has written for Newsweek, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, CNN.com, and the Daily Beast, as well as for the World Bank and Harvard Business School.
“[A] transporting, enlightening book. . . The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a fascinating window on Afghan life under the Taliban and a celebration of women the world over who support their loved ones with tenacity, inventiveness and sheer guts.”
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is pure inspiration. . . it reveals in acute detail the anxiety of ordinary people trying to fold their lives around the whims and laws of abusive regimes.”
-Los Angeles Times
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana gives voice to many of our world’s unsung heroines. Against all odds, these young women created hope and community, and they never gave up. This book is guaranteed to move you—and to show you a side of Afghanistan few ever see.”
“An Afghan family finds a way to survive in Kabul under Taliban rule in this awe-inspiring true story. Fans of Three Cups of Tea are sure to embrace this powerful and humbling book.”
“Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells a true, inspiring story of courageous women and quiet heroism at work in Taliban-era Afghanistan.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“Gayle Tzemach Lemmon embroiders the life of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, the remarkable story of an ingenious young Afghan woman who, under the Taliban’s rule, created jobs for 100 women.”
“A riveting and important book.”
“A courageous Afghan woman and her sisters success as unlikely entrepreneurs in this inspiring true story.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
“Gayle Lemmon’s riveting portrait of Kamila, told with grace, elegance and passion, captures the extraordinary tenacity and ingenuity of one woman. A powerful read that serves as a reminder that Afghanistan can never thrive until it embraces the active involvement of women in its leadership and future.”
“A fascinating story that touches on family, gender, business, and politics and offers inspiration through the resourceful, determined woman at its heart.”
“An inspiring story of courageous community building. . . . [Lemmon] pays scrupulous attention to detail. . . [and] convincingly evokes the atmosphere of Taliban-era Kabul.”
“Lemmon tells the riveting true story of Kamila Sidiqi and other women of Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s rise to power.”
“Rarely has an author been so successful in turning on-the-ground reportage into a dramatic and yet deeply informative story. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana reads like great fiction and yet it is all true. It is a must read.”
-Mohamed El-Erian, author of When Markets Collide
“[Kamila Sidiqi] picked up a needle and thread, a whole lot of courage and became an entrepreneur with her own dressmaking business. She offered work to 100 other local women, forging bonds among oppressed women and creating a real community in very trying times.”
-New York Post
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a heart-wrenching, heartwarming story about the courageous women of war-ravaged Afghanistan.”
“Lemmon’s reporting is superb. . . . The Dressmaker of Khair Khana verges on required reading.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“An inspiring, uplifting story about one woman’s extraordinary courage and ingenuity in the face of adversity.”
“A revealing work that contributes to the literature on women under Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.”
“A truly uplifting and very true story of how one woman set out to start a business and ended up preserving the dignity of so many women; opened up possibilities for hundreds more; and inspired thousands.”
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana shows us a side of Afghanistan that is so different from what we have seen so far. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever had an idea or a business plan. Kamila’s story is engrossing, and her courage truly inspiring.”
“Rebel Chic: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s real-life tale of a seamstress under the Taliban.”
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is one of those books you pick up to read and never forget: an emotional event and a reading experience about a dynamic woman of courage. Lemmon captivates readers with wonder as she relates how one woman refuses to be a victim.”
“Nothing short of amazing . . . definitely a must-read!”
“By sharing these women’s courageously tenacious stories, Lemmon provides readers convincing proof to believe, as well.”
“Lemmon’s storytelling is her strength–the way the book is organized is captivating. Make no mistake that The Dressmaker of Khair Khana has solid journalistic chops and remains based in fact. It is a feel-good, pleasurable read at the crossroads between journalism and novel.”
-Muslim Media Watch Blog
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a most remarkable tale.”
“Kamia’s story is a truly inspiring one and a testament to the ingenuity and resiliency of the human spirit.”
“The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a captivating war-time adventure story, but it is also a lesson in tenacity and courage.”