Publisher Random House, April 2007
In the tradition of Reading Lolita in Tehran, a look at the lives of women in Afghanistan through the lens of The Kabul Beauty School.
Most Westerners now working in Afghanistan spend their time tucked inside the wall of a military compound or embassy. Deborah Rodriguez is one of the very few who lives life smack in the middle of Kabul. Now, Rodriquez, one of the founders, tells her story of the beauty school and the vibrant women who were her students there.
When Rodriguez helped establish the Kabul Beauty School she not only worked to empower her students with a new sense of autonomy––in the strictly patriarchal culture, the beauty school proved a small haven––but she also made some of the closest friends of her life. Woven through the book are the stories of her students––there is the newlywed who must fake her own virginity, the 12 year-old bride who has been sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the brilliant former medic who has not left her house for thirty years. All of these women have a story to tell, and all of them bring their stories to the Kabul Beauty School, where, along with Rodriguez herself, they learn the art of perms, of friendship, and of freedom.
Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan to transform her own life and ended up revolutionizing the lives of many of her Afghan sisters. This book made me feel like I was right there in the beauty salon, sharing in the tears and laughter as, outside my door, an entire country changed. KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL is inspiring, exciting, and not to be missed.
— Masha Hamilton, author of Staircase of a Thousand Steps and The Distance Between Us.