Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Chronicling Catastrophes – an interview with &#197sne Seierstad, journalist and author of The Bookseller of Kabul

She has seen first-hand what happened in all those three conflicts. Which had the greatest impact on her?

“Chechnya – perhaps because I was so young and it was my first real experience of war. Also, it was so terrible, because what I witnessed was really the destruction of a whole people. When I started reporting, Chechnya was still a functioning society. Now that society has disappeared and what is left is chaos. Mafias and criminals rule. It really makes my heart bleed. “

She think the reason so little is reported about it now has to do both with its less strategic importance and with access. No western journalist can go there without a Russian government escort. Going alone is extremely dangerous, with kidnapping a very real risk. Also, it is seen in the West to an extent an internal Russian problem.

Back in Norway, Seierstad has just published a book about her Iraqi experience, which will be available here in December. At the moment she is enjoying her summer holidays, having spent months “just going around in the woods, cross-country skiing. So much happened in a short time last year, and when I came back from Baghdad I was so tired. I just had to get it all out of my head. I would not be able to go back to Baghdad now”.

Having recharged her batteries in the Norwegian woods, her next project is a series of articles on America. She is going there in search of an understanding of what makes that nation tick. “I cannot just do war and destruction, I would like to do other things. And I am really curious about what American society is based on. I think it is really important too, for us in Europe to understand America”.

I hope the Americans will get a chance to hear what she has to say too. &#197sne Seierstad is a writer who may be able to reach ordinary Americans, and make them question whether their country is adding fuel to flames which may eventually burn them too.

Virago Press – Author Profile for Asne Seierstad