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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (P.S.) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

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20. März 2012 P.S.

"We're far more accustomed to—and comfortable with—seeing women portrayed as victims of war who deserve our sympathy rather than as resilient survivors who demand our respect…" 

Former ABC journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the riveting true story of Kamila Sidiqi and other women of Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s fearful rise to power. In what Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, calls “one of the most inspiring books I have ever read,” Lemmon recounts with novelistic vividness the true story of a fearless young woman who not only reinvented herself as an entrepreneur to save her family but, in the face of ferocious opposition, brought hope to the lives of dozens of women in war-torn Kabul.

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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (P.S.) + Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum
Preis für beide: EUR 20,30

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“Remarkable.” (New Yorker)

“[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.” (People)

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.” (Angelina Jolie)

“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.” (Parade)

“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.” (Vanity Fair)

“A riveting and important book.” (Fast Company)

“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.” (Tina Brown)

“A fascinating story that touches on family, gender, business, and politics and offers inspiration through the resourceful, determined woman at its heart.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An inspiring story of courageous community building. . . . [Lemmon] pays scrupulous attention to detail. . . [and] convincingly evokes the atmosphere of Taliban-era Kabul.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Lemmon tells the riveting true story of Kamila Sidiqi and other women of Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s rise to power.” (Business Insider)

“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.” (Washington Times)

“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.” (Booklist)

“A revealing work that contributes to the literature on women under Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.” (Library Journal)

“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.” (Huffington Post)

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.” (Harper's Bazaar)

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!” (MSN Glo)

“By sharing these women’s courageously tenacious stories, Lemmon provides readers convincing proof to believe, as well.” (BookDragon)

“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.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Kamia’s story is a truly inspiring one and a testament to the ingenuity and resiliency of the human spirit.” (BurdaStyle)

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a captivating war-time adventure story, but it is also a lesson in tenacity and courage.” (Acton Institute)


Kamila Sidiqi's life changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. After her father and brother were forced to flee, she became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Banned from school, confined to her home, and armed only with determination, she picked up a needle and thread to create a thriving business that saved their lives.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. A story of war, it is also a story of family, faith, and resilience in the face of despair. These women are not victims—they are the glue that holds families together; they are the backbone and the heart of their nation. 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.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.1 von 5 Sternen  313 Rezensionen
105 von 109 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Sewing to Save Their Lives 28. Januar 2011
Von Jeannie Mancini - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
When American journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon sets out to research stories on unsung heroines that became extraordinary entrepreneurs, never did she imagine she'd come across Kamela Sediqi.

This is the incredible story of one young woman who set out to find a way out of a world of despair, and turned a war torn land of death and destruction into a private den of hope for her and her sisters, in order to save their lives from turmoil. When the Taliban suddenly storm into Kabul, life changes for the Afghani people in a frightful and restrictive manner. The take over of Kabul leaves it's happy peaceful residents turning on their heals to either secretly evacuate at night across the mountains into Pakistan, or stay and be forced to adhere to severe laws of injustice. The Taliban edict enforces women to be completely covered from head to foot, they are not allowed to go outside without a male chaperone, they must not work in the public and must only work at home. Books, education, colorful clothing, music and joy, are taken from their lives leaving only a world of darkness. Strict adherence to Muslim law and religious creed are mandatory. Evening curfews are set, Taliban spies hide in waiting, offenders are publicly beaten, jailed, or killed.

When the family funds get low, and when then level of daily violence in Kabul escalates out of control, Kamela's father leaves Kabul to get help from his family, her brother is sent to Pakistan to work. The family desperately needs food. Times get tougher and tougher but as the burden of taking care of her family weighs heavy on Kamela's shoulders, she miraculously finds a way to keep their chins up and hatches a plan to save the day, and their threatened lives.

Unable to continue with her career of teaching, Kamela seeks a way to enable the family to stay in Kabul and not starve. Her older sister is a talented seamstress and soon teaches Kamela sewing skills for dressmaking. Starting out with simple designs that bravely have her in disguise as she knocks on the doors of local tailors, she quickly gains more confidence until many orders pour in from many vendors to the point where she can't keep up. She then begins not only putting her sisters to work, but welcomes in the neighboring women to learn and assist. Before long this band of incredible women create a force to be reckoned with as the dressmaking business grows into a profitable enterprise like no other Afghani woman had ever imagined possible. Constantly working in fear that they will be caught, Kamela devises plans and programs to avoid the wrath of the Taliban and successfully becomes one the world's most fascinating self-made female entrepreneurs.

This is a riveting story of the power of determination and hope that can stem from nothing other than the power of love and family. The author shines with her execution of talented writing, a believable and endearing heroine readers won't ever forget, and a message for us all to never give up no matter how much the odds of winning seam dim. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is surely one for the reading discussion groups and I highly recommend putting this on the top of your reading pile. Fabulous!
49 von 54 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A quick, interesting read 11. März 2011
Von Daffy Du - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
This is the latest in a string of inspiring and heartwarming true stories about how determination and the human spirit can literally triumph over adversity and change hundreds or thousands of lives. (Think Three Cups of Tea and its sequel.) On that level, it works well. It offers a fascinating and sometimes horrifying look at life under the Taliban, who for the most part are every bit as brutal, ignorant and fanatical as they've been depicted elsewhere. The title character, Kamela Sidiqi, is clearly a remarkable woman, and one can't help but be filled with admiration for all she achieved, particularly considering how young she was when she started the dressmaking business that sustained her family and many of her neighbors during the dark years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. I couldn't help wondering if it has been optioned for a movie because in the right hands, it would make an incredible film.

But while I enjoyed it, that's precisely why I think it's not as successful a book as it could be. Throughout, there were leaps in time and gaps in the narrative that left me wondering what happened to this person or that and what had transpired in the interim. It's as if the author, who researched her material long after the fact, didn't have the information she needed to flesh out the narrative, so took some shortcuts, kind of hopping around and in places reducing the storyline to a series of episodic vignettes. A good editor would have caught these and worked with the author to fix them, but several slipped through, and I found myself going back to see if I'd missed something about a character. Sometimes I had, but just as often, I hadn't. Particularly toward the end she seemed to be kind of speeding up just to finish the narrative.

I really debated whether to give this three stars or four, but settled on three and a half because it is an interesting story about an amazing woman and her family. It's just that I'd have liked a little more story and substance with my inspiration.
24 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A businesswoman, a hero 27. Januar 2011
Von N. B. Kennedy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
We have come to view the women of Afghanistan as oppressed victims of the Taliban -- which they are -- but they are not just that, writes Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. They are heroes who under the harshest of circumstances have carved out a niche for themselves as entrepreneurs and activists. They have no choice, if they and their families are going to survive.

Until I read this story of Kamela, a young woman struggling to stay alive in Taliban-occupied Kabul, I had no idea of what that oppression meant. I knew that women were denied an education and forced to cover themselves entirely. But I could never have extrapolated how cruelly their lives were shut down. Gangs of "morality police" roam the streets, beating any woman whose covering reveals a stray hair, or who has lifted her chadri for a second so she can see what she's buying at the market. Women are unable to work, to go out without a male family member, or talk with anyone when they do venture out. It is risky business to walk down a street, and they cannot recognize even a friend, covered as they are from head to toe. Women are essentially cut off from society and put under house arrest.

Kamela can't bear this enforced captivity. First, she and her sisters figure out how to swap books with friends to ease their boredom. Then, she sets in motion a plan to become a seamstress, since her plan to teach has come to an end. It doesn't matter that she has never sewed! She is determined to learn; otherwise, her family will starve. Her father and brother have been forced to flee the country, as most men have in order to escape impressment or death, leaving her and her sisters without an income.

Having failed miserably at sewing myself, I am astounded at how quickly Kamela and her sisters learn to make beautiful garments adorned with intricate beading and embroidery. Kamela is a natural businesswoman, and soon she is quietly finding shopkeepers to buy her clothing and teaching other desperate women the trade. Eventually, after Taliban rule has come to an end, she catches the eye of Westerners who recognize the value of women like her to act as catalysts for change.

"Brave young women complete heroic acts every day, with no one bearing witness," the author writes. In this elegant book, Ms. Lemmon brings to light the story of one singular hero, a dressmaker who risks everything -- even her life -- to reclaim not only her place in society, but her very soul.
15 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Praiseworthy family, mediocre storytelling 28. Juni 2011
Von Jody Latini - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is the story of Kamila Sidiqi, a new college graduate when the Taliban took power in Afghanistan and banned women from all arenas of public life. Unable to work outside the home, and after her father and brother are forced to flee Kabul, Kamila organizes her large family into a dressmaking business. The business flourishes, and provides support for Kamila's family as well as for many young women whom she employs. Kamila's story is impressive. Her goal to help other Afghani women never wavers, and she in fact goes on to work with the UN and found several other businesses that help to educate and employ her peers.
The writing of this book left something to be desired. The author's background in journalism came through in that although the timeline and facts are clearly related, the drama and emotion that should have driven the story were missing. Another point that bothered me throughout the book was never addressed. The people of Kabul are fleeing or starving, the economy of Afghanistan is in tatters, women are required to completely cover every piece of clothing with the chadri when in public, yet a dressmaking venture is successful enough to support not only a large extended family but much of a neighborhood? I felt like a paradox that big needed more explanation.
All in all, an interesting book about like in Afghanistan under the Taliban, but it could have benefited from more stringent editorial critique.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Amazing Book of Courage 11. Mai 2011
Von Mom to 2 Boys - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Incredible debut novel. Ms. Lemmon writes to shed a light on the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by Kamila during the Taliban years in Afghanistan. As the author writes, "This was a chance to even the ledger, to share one small story that made the difference between starvation and survival for the families whose lives it changed. I wanted to pull the curtain back for readers on a place foreigners know more for its rocket attacks and roadside bombs than its countless quiet fears of courage."

Kamila was one of 8 children (6 girls and 2 boys). Her parents belief was that all of their children deserved and should be educated. Kamila, their second daughter, had just finished school and wanted to become a teacher when the Taliban took over Kabul. She was forced to stay indoors and was witness to brutality faced by women who dared to venture unescorted by a male relative or expose any skin in public. What they hoped would be a short lived regime, quickly became obvious that the Taliban would rule for much longer than they had hoped.

Kamila's father was retired from the Afghan Army and was at significant personal risk as he was considered a threat to the Taliban. Her older brother was of the age where he could be drafted into the Taliban to fight. It was unsafe for a family with so many women/girls to travel. So, Kamila's parents left to seek safety in a Northern Afghan town and her brother fled to Iran in hopes to work and send money home to the women/girls and one remaining 13 year old brother in Khair Khana.

The 13 year old brother had the responsibility of going to school and getting all of the household goods (food, etc) for his sisters. Additionally, he was their male escort. At first, the girls began a library to exchange books with other neighborhood women. They cherished anything that would break the tedium of being trapped in their homes.

Kamila got the idea to begin a dressmaking business upon visiting a female doctor. All medical services were segregated by male/female and medicine was one of the few occupations that women were allowed to continue to pursue. Kamila took significant risks in running a business out of her home and going with her brother on a daily basis to sell their wares in the market.

The quality of their work brought in many orders and the sisters were working nearly round the clock. In order to fulfill demand as well as to help other families who were primarily destitute women, Kamila started a dressmaker school all secretly.

This story of survival shows both a woman's love of her family, sense of purpose, and determination to make the most out of life despite horrendous circumstances. It is an incredibly inspiring story that the reader will not forget.
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