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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, 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:
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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 war—a rare achievement for any Afghan woman—Kamila 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 Newsreporter 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.

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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.” 


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”

    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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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... "

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