The Book-suer of Kabul

The Guardian reports that author Åsne Seierstad has been found guilty of defamation and “negligent journalistic practices” for her book The Bookseller of Kabul.

An Oslo district court found that Seierstad had depicted Suraia Rais in “a humiliating, untruthful way” and ordered to pay UK£26,000 in punitive damages. Readers of the book will know Rais as the second wife of bookseller Shah Muhammad Rais, who hosted Seierstad while researching her book.

The decision has created a precedent about how people from developing countries are depicted by visiting journalists and writers. The bookseller Shah Muhammad Rais along with his first wife and their family have already begun legal proceedings against Seierstad, which could amount to UK£250,000. Despite Seierstad claiming that she’d been told stories by the family and that her approach was novelistic, 31 members of the Rais family and their neighbours say the Norwegian author misrepresented them.

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