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The Resource The swallows of Kabul, Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by John Cullen

The swallows of Kabul, Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by John Cullen

Label
The swallows of Kabul
Title
The swallows of Kabul
Statement of responsibility
Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by John Cullen
Creator
Contributor
Subject
Genre
Language
  • eng
  • fre
  • eng
Summary
Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this extraordinary novel takes readers into the lives of two couples: Mohsen, who comes from a family of wealthy shopkeepers whom the Taliban has destroyed; Zunaira, his wife, exceedingly beautiful, who was once a brilliant teacher and is now no longer allowed to leave her home without an escort or covering her face. Intersecting their world is Atiq, a prison keeper, a man who has sincerely adopted the Taliban ideology and struggles to keep his faith, and his wife, Musarrat, who once rescued Atiq and is now dying of sickness and despair. Desperate, exhausted Mohsen wanders through Kabul when he is surrounded by a crowd about to stone an adulterous woman. Numbed by the hysterical atmosphere and drawn into their rage, he too throws stones at the face of the condemned woman buried up to her waist. With this gesture the lives of all four protagonists move toward their destinies. The Swallows of Kabul is a dazzling novel written with compassion and exquisite detail by one of the most lucid writers about the mentality of Islamic fundamentalists and the complexities of the Muslim world. Yasmina Khadra brings readers into the hot, dusty streets of Kabul and offers them an unflinching but compassionate insight into a society that violence and hypocrisy have brought to the edge of despair
Member of
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • ALA Notable Book, 2005.
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, 2004.
Review
  • /*Starred Review*/ In Kabul under the Taliban, two men walk the city in pain. Atiq, 42, is a part-time jailer; so efficient is the regime’s capital punishment machinery that there are never many prisoners in his jail. Atiq’s wife is dying of a painful, wasting disease, and he feels these days, after 20 years of unremitting war, that “he can’t see the end of the tunnel, and he can’t see the end of his nose, either.” Mohsen, about 10 years younger, has watched his family’s fortunes collapse as successive regimes destroyed business, devalued education, and finally forbade women like his beautiful wife to practice their professions. Indeed, Zunaira won’t leave the house anymore, for she refuses to wear the burka that cancels her identity. Atiq’s and Mohsen’s paths begin converging when Mohsen, in a trance of self-obliteration, helps stone the latest prisoner from Atiq’s jail. Out of the spiral of disasters Mohsen’s action starts, Zunaira emerges as Atiq’s next prisoner, and when he sees how lovely she is, he determines to save her. At the end of Khadra’s harrowing portrayal of a society enslaved by anger, Atiq has succeeded and failed, and Zunaira has only possibly been saved. Khadra is the feminine pseudonym of a former Algerian army officer whose experience with Islamic radicals as well as with prolonged warfare bolster the novel’s sledgehammer power and authority. -- Ray Olson (BookList, 02-01-2004, p950)
  • /* Starred Review */ Khadra is the nom de plume for Algerian army officer Mohamed Moulessehoul (In the Name of God ; Wolf Dreams ), who illustrates the effects of repression on a pair of Kabul couples in this slim, harrowing novel of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Gloomy prison guard Atiq Shaukat is tired of his grim duties, keeping watch over prisoners slated for public execution. Life at home, where his wife, Musarrat, is slowly dying of a chronic illness, is no better. Mohsen Ramat, meanwhile, clings to the remains of his middle-class life together with his beautiful, progressive wife, Zunaira, after the Taliban strip them of their livelihood and dignity. Khadra's storytelling style recalls that of Naguib Mahfouz in the early chapters, in which the tense dissatisfaction of both couples is revealed. The pivotal event occurs when Ramat discharges his frustrations by participating in the brutal stoning of a female Taliban prisoner. The incident changes the dynamic of his marriage; after an extended argument about the incident, Ramat persuades Zunaira to go for a stroll in downtown Kabul and the couple is harassed and nearly brutalized by Taliban soldiers. Zunaira continues to bridle at her situation, and when their next argument turns physical, Ramat falls and dies after hitting his head on the wall. Shaukat is given the assignment of guarding Zunaira after she is arrested and charged with murder, and his instant infatuation with her sets off a remarkable chain of events. Khadra's simple, elegant prose, finely drawn characters and chilling insights ("Kabul has become the antechamber to the great beyond") prepare the way for the terrible climax. Like Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner , this is a superb meditation on the fate of the Afghan people. (Feb.) --Staff (Reviewed December 1, 2003) (Publishers Weekly, vol 250, issue 48, p40)
  • Set in Afghanistan during the Taliban's rule, this novel features Atiq; his sickly wife, Mousarrat; and an educated woman, Zunaira, who winds up in prison and is sentenced to death for the accidental killing of her husband, Mohsen. Atiq is one of the fortunate citizens who, because of his status as a veteran in the Russian war, is still useful to the Taliban as a jailer of moral transgressors. Zunaira's story, in particular, dramatizes the plight of the countless Afghanis who endured the prolonged medieval code of conduct when the Taliban was in power. Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym of Mohamed Moulessehoul, a former officer in the Algerian army who has published two books in English, In the Name of God and Wolf Dreams . His jarring new work, ably translated from French, has crisp prose and an ominous—but not heavyhanded—tone as he contrasts the criminally absurd world of the Taliban's theocracy with touching and ultimately heartbreaking relationships of love and sacrifice that humanize the whole tragic society. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/03.]—Edward Keane, Long Island Univ. Lib., Brooklyn --Edward Keane (Reviewed January 15, 2004) (Library Journal, vol 129, issue 1, p157)
  • A bleak, terse tale in which a harsh fundamentalist culture suppresses individual liberty and summarily victimizes its citizens.The setting is Afghanistan's war-torn capitol city under Taliban rule, and still reeling from the catastrophic Russian invasion—during which, one character remembers, "the terrified swallows dispersed under a barrage of missiles." These swallows are both literal and metaphoric, as is dramatized in the powerful opening scene, of a woman condemned as a prostitute being publicly stoned to death. The pseudonymous Khadra (Wolf Dreams, p. 704, etc.), who has been identified as a former Algerian army officer, then focuses in turn on major characters who, initially, cross one another's paths but do not actually meet. Mohsen Ramat, a young intellectual, is caught up in the frenzy of the prostitute's "execution," participates in the stoning, and thereafter endangers his marriage by confessing this to his wife Zunaira, a former "lawyer, who worked for women's rights." Meanwhile, Atiq Shaukat, a wounded veteran of the Russian War now working as a prison guard, tortuously reexamines his own relationships to both his drastically changed homeland and his wife Musarrat, who had nursed him back to health and is now dying from a painful enervating disease. Khadra's unflinching portrayal of the scorching, suppurating environment in which these people struggle not to be noticed, is quite effective. And his principal characters' trials are ingeniously echoed in stark glimpses of other stunted, redirected figures (e.g., a cynical entrepreneur, an aged cripple obsessed by fantasies of escape). But Mohsen and Atiq declaim incessantly, creating static patches that stand out glaringly in this story's short compass—and are only partially redeemed by a powerful climax in which Zunaira becomes everything she most despises, and the jailer Atiq becomes the prisoner of his own best—and most foolhardy—impulses.Still, despite such contrivances, Khadra's latest is informed by a fine ironic intelligence, and its message is not an easy one to shake off. (Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
121705
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Khadra, Yasmina
Dewey number
843/.92
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorDate
1942-
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorName
Cullen, John
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Kabul (Afghanistan)
  • Afghanistan
Label
The swallows of Kabul, Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by John Cullen
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocm52152513
Dimensions
20 cm
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
195 pages
Isbn
9780385510011
Lccn
2003050769
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)52152513
Label
The swallows of Kabul, Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by John Cullen
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocm52152513
Dimensions
20 cm
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
195 pages
Isbn
9780385510011
Lccn
2003050769
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)52152513

Library Locations

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