Book Review: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Title: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Publisher: Harper

Release Date: January 1, 2011

Website: http://www.gaylelemmon.com/

Book Summary: 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.

My mom gave me her copy of The Dressmaker over a year ago to read with a high recommendation. I immediately picked it up and began reading. It is still one of those books that made such an impression on me, that when someone asks for a good book it is on the top of my recommendation list.

I really think this book needs to be read with an open mind, without any preconceived ideas on Afghan culture. The Dressmaker shows a different side to Afghan culture and women than what most people I know seem to think about them. I know I for one always pictured the women in full dresses, simple in color, with their head covered. Gayle paints a different picture told by Kamila where women still want fancy dresses, miss the days where they could safely walk around the neighborhood without their heads covered, and not everyone agrees with the Taliban despite similar faith.

Rating: 5 stars. I loved it!!!
Content: Clean. War references
Source: Personal copy