The Real Bookseller of Kabul: Shah Muhammad Rais in conversation

Composite of a photograph of a bookshop and the two speakers in the event

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With David Loyn.

This event will take place at the British Library. It will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person (physical), or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

The online version of this event will be live captioned.

Shah Muhammed Rais opened his world-famous bookshop in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1974 and the vast collection and rare publications it housed made it a focal point of the cultural life of the city.

In 2002 it was written of in Åsne Seierstad’s international best-seller The Bookseller of Kabul, bringing global attention to Rais and his shop. He has since argued that the book made his family's life unsafe in Afghanistan and he published his own version of the story, Once upon a time there was a bookseller in Kabul.

Despite multiple changes of regime and constant challenges, the shop remains open to this day. ‘The life of my bookshop spans the life of Afghanistan’ Rais says, ‘from a modern country to its present state.’ However, following the fall of Kabul last year he is now a refugee in London.

At this unique event Shah Muhammad Rais talks to David Loyn about his life, his love of books and of his country.

David Loyn is an author, former award-winning BBC foreign correspondent and Visiting Senior Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London. He has worked in Afghanistan on several projects, including a year as an advisor for President Ashraf Ghani. His third book, The Long War – the Inside Story of America and Afghanistan since 9/11 was published in 2021. He is also the author of Frontline – Reporting from the World’s Deadliest Places, shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, and Butcher and Bolt – Two Hundred Years of Foreign Engagement in Afghanistan.

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Name: The Real Bookseller of Kabul: Shah Muhammad Rais in conversation
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546