Examiner.com, Durham Books Examiner: “Breadwinners in Burquas”

October 9, 2011

Author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon calls them “breadwinners in burquas,” the women of Afghanistan who managed to support their families and get an education despite the repressive presence of the Taliban.

Lemmon went to Afghanistan in 2005 to do the research for a story for the Financial Times on Afghan women entrepreneurs. The women she met and their real stories are the subject of her book.

The daily nightmares faced by women under Taliban repression are vividly and indelibly described. The fear, the shame and the horror of ordinary women deprived of all rights are related in this captivating saga.

However, these women are not helpless survivors of the bloody war. Kamili Sidiqi, an educated Afghan woman confined to her home under Taliban rule, started a dressmaking business in her living room which grew to employ 100 women. She outfitted both the poor and the elite of Kabul, including some Taliban women.

This book is one of the best ever written about how women can succeed as entrepreneurs under even the most difficult situations. The women Lemmon portrays elicit admiration and amazement in readers. Reading the book is like sitting with the dressmaker in Sadiqi’s living room, listening for the Taliban, all the while developing strong bonds with other women and making money to support war–divided families. This is a masterpiece which is must reading.

By Diane Weddington, Durham Books Examiner, August 12, 2011

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana