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The bookseller chose New Time

Columnist Shah Muhammad Rais' collaboration with Ny Tid has resulted in a book contract with Damm.


[book] It was former editor-in-chief of Ny Tid, Dag Herbjørnsrud, who contacted Shah Muhammad Rais last summer. The bookstore in Kabul was then given column space in Ny Tid's previous paper edition, and from January in the current news magazine.

It was the same Herbjørnsrud, current development editor of Ny Tid, who met Rais last week to show the Afghan what his column looked like in print in Ny Tid. He was the one sitting at the table when the contract was signed at 23.14 Monday night, and it was he who sat at the winning table at the press conference the next day.

- We have created press history by becoming Norway's first news magazine. Now we have been involved in creating publishing history, says Herbjørnsrud.

Although it apparently became dramatic at Rais' press conference, with the change of lawyer and Aschehoug's latest attempt to persuade the bookseller, the foundation for the collaboration was laid early. It also emphasized Rais himself.

- I have long had contact with Ny Tid, and with Damm as owner, it was a natural choice, says the bookseller.

The first book will be about trolls. It will be a kind of fairy tale book that is scheduled to be published this year. The biography itself, which has the working title "I am the bookseller from Kabul", is expected during 2007. But although the conflict with Åsne Seierstad has been the most central in the uproar surrounding Rais, this is given less attention in the book about Shah Muhammad Rais' life .

Damm CEO Tom Harald Jenssen says the agreement with Rais is a standard agreement for this type of book.

- He has not been concerned with money, says Jenssen.

The publishing director explains his interest in Rais with his colorful life. Rais has experienced several invasions and wars, and that from the most central place in Afghanistan. Namely Hotel Continental in Kabul.

The announced case against Åsne Seierstad is now being toned down sharply after lawyer Abid Q. Raja took over as Rais' closest adviser. Raja came in after lawyer Per Danielsen, who until now has led the work with a possible lawsuit against Seierstad's publisher Cappelen.

- There are several ways to solve this case. It does not have to happen in court, says Raja.

The bookseller himself suggested that the most important thing is to get a written complaint from Seierstad where she admits her mistakes.

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