The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Back in 2005, author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon took a trip to Afghanistan as part of her work. Mrs. Tzemach Lemmon returned to Afghanistan in 2006, when she heard about the women there earning money after the Taliban take over. Mrs. Tzemach Lemmon was writing for the Financial Times. Gayle knew she needed to learn more about these women and what they endured with the Taliban.

This is the story of Khair Khana and sisters. Before the Taliban came, Afghanistan was a little more liberal in the fact women were allowed to not wear the custom chadri (head pieces), in fact they could wear what they wanted and even get an education degree. This is exactly what Khair Khana did. She graduated with a certificate in teaching. Unfortunately, before Khair Khana can put her certificate to good use, the Taliban come and tell everyone that women are to stay at home and always wear a chadri. Khair Khana knew that she needed to do something to help with an income for her family. She took up sewing and making clothing.

This book is a nonfiction novel. While it is based around true events, some parts are briefly glossed over by the author. This is because out of respect of the women, which I can appreciate. While, I did like learning about Khair Khana, her sisters and the other women in Afghanistan and the fact that they turned a lemon into lemonade as the saying goes. I didn’t experience a strong connection with Khair Khana. I don’t know if this party had to do with the fact that it seemed like this book was missing some of the gaps due to the fact that it seemed the author held back on wanting to give too much detail. Though, I can not imagine what it must be like to have a group like the Taliban come and take over and tell you that your freedom has been taken away and you must stay in your home. I had some mixed feelings about this book but overall, it was pretty good.


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