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Extended Audio Sample The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe Audiobook, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,336 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Narrator: Sarah Zimmerman Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9780062027450
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"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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Quotes & Awards

  • The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is pure inspiration...it reveals...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 is a most remarkable tale.” 

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a heart-wrenching, heartwarming story about the courageous women of war-ravaged Afghanistan.” 

    Washington Times

  • “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

  • “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

  • “Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells a true, inspiring story of courageous women and quiet heroism at work in Taliban-era Afghanistan.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “[A] powerful and humbling book.”

    Parade

  • “This true story introduces listeners to an aspect of Afghan society rarely heard about—the region’s entrepreneurial women. The life of Kamila Sidiqi is a model of ingenuity, creativity, courage, and adaptability amid the harshest surroundings and brutal circumstances...Sarah Zimmerman’s feminine clarity contrasts sharply with the grim war-torn realities, and she also captures the coarse tones of the brutal Taliban. Her voice softens as she compassionately recounts the stories of the brave sisterhood, focusing on the resilience of the women.”

    AudioFile

  • “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 memorable, inspiring story of courageous community-building.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 bethany malouf | 2/19/2014

    " A beautiful and inspiring story inside the lives of women in Taliban run Afghanistan. I was moved to tears by the eternal optimism despite the daily threat to their lives just to survive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marian | 2/16/2014

    " This is a story of a young girl in Afghanistan who created a thriving dressmaking business to support her five younger sisters when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul and her parents and brothers were forced to flee. It is a true story and is written by a former journalist who writes about the women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Rwanda. It gives an insight to the lives of these women not usually told. I highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caroline | 2/15/2014

    " Eye-opening! Terrific read that started out a bit slow with the reporter "talking" to the reader about why she wrote the book and her personal worries (in her defence...they later dovetailed nicely with those of the main character). Noble characters that I can only hope will demonstrate that people are people wherever they live, whatever they believe, whoever they pray to. An important story for everyone to know, esp. women and those who love them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charissa | 2/9/2014

    " First 60 pages or so FAR too slow for my liking! It's taken me far too long to get into this one... A bit too predictable & dull. Kite Runner was a far better read and depicted the characters and country much better. Could go on, but my rating said it all... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gordon | 2/9/2014

    " A wonderful testimony to the determination, perseverance, and humanity of Afghan women in the toughest years of Taliban rule. A tribute to the human will to thrive, not just survive, in the face of adversity and hardship. The story of Kamala Sadiqi and her Family provides hope that Afghanistan is not lost as long as there are Afghan men and women willing to pursue the education of women, to fight the ignorance and backwardness of the Taliban's interpretation of Islam, all the while maintaining their own faith in their religion and in themselves. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 1/29/2014

    " Refreshing to hear a story of local people making a difference rather than a foreigner coming in to bring about change. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy | 1/27/2014

    " It was ok. Yes it was a fascinating story of a woman starting a business in the face of the Taliban in order for her family to survive. But I thought something was missing... I just breezed through the last third of the book, anxious to finish it and start something else. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mpmccon | 1/6/2014

    " This book illustrates what everyday life was like under Taliban rule. It shows how necessity and persistence will transform people to be true leaders. An very inspiring story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy Titus | 12/25/2013

    " Strong start...weak finish...somewhat disappointed... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin Overstreet | 12/16/2013

    " Non-fiction that reads like a novel. It was easy to read and I learned a lot, but I don't feel like it was wll written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean | 12/9/2013

    " Very interesting story, but not terribly great writing. Worth reading though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim Scanlan | 12/5/2013

    " Excellent bookK! Clearly shows what was happening in Afghanistan under the Taliban. These women are an inspiration. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shayla | 12/2/2013

    " This book was an easy interesting read and provided a good insight to life in Afghanistan. Although while I read it I couldn't help but wonder how much of the story was distorted through the Western filter of the woman who wrote it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy Sorensen | 11/17/2013

    " Remarkable story of the strength of an Afghan woman during the takeover by the Taliban. . "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barb Bailey | 3/30/2013

    " Lemmon's description of a woman's life under the Talibal was gripping and compelling. The main character was creative and eager to find a way to help her family. But I did not think the book was particularly well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 3/24/2013

    " Left me with so much respect for the women and men trying to live in a world that has been left behind. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Char | 2/22/2013

    " REMARKABLE. TRUE STORY. Amazing example---of HOPE, faith, optimism and the power of education and family...all about someone I'd now LOVE to meet!--plus I starve for stories from corners of the earth I'm so unfamiliar w/--which is almost anywhere(Afghanistan in this case). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharon | 12/27/2012

    " The author did not reach my soul. I understand the desperation because there was no safety and no freedom. However, what need can there possibly be for hand beaded, bright green dresses in a destroyed city where women struggle to feed their children? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane Emmerth | 8/25/2012

    " Very quick read. Gave me incite into the lives of women living under Taliban rule. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 4/19/2012

    " Very interesting read on how a family of girls coped in Afghanistan under the Taliban. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lareina | 3/10/2012

    " The writing is forced in some parts of this book, but the account of Kamila, and Afghani woman who keeps her family fed and starts a business during Taliban rule, is inspiring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 1/24/2012

    " Well intentioned, worthy subject, but ultimately boring writing. I skipped through to the end, wishing I liked it more than I did. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lex | 8/13/2011

    " The subject is truly an inspirational figure, but the story telling left a bit to be desired. Very plain and condensed writing, however, I do realize the author was trying to cover 10 years worth of story in one book. Still a good read for a bit of hope and perspective about live in the Middle East. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 7/24/2011

    " Good story and easy read...started & finished on a flight. Positive story from Afghanistan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 5/22/2011

    " So far this is terrific--somewhat reminiscent of Reading Lolita in Tehran. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dad | 5/19/2011

    " Amazing what the Taliban did! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 5/14/2011

    " The courage and energy of these women are amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen | 5/12/2011

    " A MUST READ BOOK. The story of Kamila Sidiq is incredible and inspiring. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robi | 5/11/2011

    " I was disappointed in this book. It felt incomplete, rushed. It was not an in-depth study of the situation, at all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Crissy | 5/10/2011

    " An inspiring story about amazing women. I loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacy | 5/10/2011

    " Well written and a wonderful historical piece on life in Afghanistan. It's an important topic for us, in our sheltered lives, to understand better. What an amazing women Kamila is! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eleanor | 5/8/2011

    " Quite an amazing and inspiring story of courage,
    but I didn't like the writing so much ... not that
    I could do half as well ... but it seemed to "folksy"
    to me. The woman and women profiled are amazing
    and I have great respect and admiration for them. "

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About the Author
Author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a fellow and deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor-at-large at Newsweek and the Daily Beast. Her reporting on conflict and post-conflict zones—including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda—has been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles.

About the Narrator

Sarah Zimmerman’s acting credits include appearances on such television shows as The Good Wife, Desperate Housewives, Big Love, The Office, and Without a Trace. Also a narrator, she has read numerous books by N. K. Jemisin, Sandi Tan, Elizabeth Kostova, and others.