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The Attack [Paperback]

Yasmina Khadra
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

7 Jun 2007

Tel Aviv. A suicide bomber has killed 19 in a packed city centre restaurant. Dr Amin Jaafie, an Israeli Arab, is a surgeon at a nearby hospital. Respected and admired by his colleagues, the doctor represents integration at its most successful. But this night of turmoil and death takes a horrifyingly personal turn as his beloved wife's body is found among the dead... could she have caused the devestation?

From the graphic, shocking description of the bombing that opens the novel to its searing conclusion, The Attack portrays the reality of terrorism and its costs. Intense and humane, thoughtful, sensitive and heartfelt, it displays a profound understanding of that which can seem incomprehensible.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099499274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099499275
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A powerful and thought-provoking novel" (Guardian)

"A moving, often troubling exploration of faith, self-belief and identity... The writing has a rare courage. This is a novel from a skilled storyteller working at the height of his powers" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Khadra has an easy-going style, and tailors his discussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict to the form of a thriller. The fuse lit at the beginning of the novel crackles through the story to its clever destination" (James Francken Daily Telegraph)

"Khadra is a passionately moral writer, but he rarely sits in judgement... A magnificent novel, believable and moving" (Literary Review)

"The characters are not mere mouthpieces - above all else, this is a novel about a man who feels himself betrayed. Amin Jaafie's very human drama is the heart of this thoughtful and affecting work" (Kamila Shamsie New Statesman)

Book Description

A strikingly powerful novel exploring the motivations of a suicide bomber in Israel, told through the eyes of her husband.

Now an award-winning film, winner of the Frankfurt Book Fair prize for best literary film adaptation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and emotive 22 July 2007
The concept of this book is excellent. From the moment I opened it I felt engaged. `The Attack' comes to mean many things throughout the book. Firstly though, it is the culmination of his wife being found in a local restaurant that has been bombed; her injuries typical of those of a suicide bomber. As a respected surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv (and an Israeli Arab) he is stopped frequently on his journeys home and now with this, his life is thrown completely into turmoil. It is revealed that he has played no part in her other life and that Sihem (Dr Amin Jaafari's wife) was not the woman he thought she was, or married.

I initially thought the author was a woman but then realised from searching (it does mention it in the book but I hadn't seen it) is a pseudonym and that Mohammed Moulessehoul is a veteran Algerian army officer. Having written six novels under his real name in Algeria the army then imposed unacceptable conditions and his work became censored. Following a refusal to do this his wife suggested he wrote under her name and this he did until leaving the army.

Throughout the book Amin Jaafari goes through many emotions and journeys. He picks up clues throughout via flashbacks or some new piece of evidence that comes to light from conversations. He journeys towards Bethlehem, stopping of at Jerusalem. He stays in Jerusalem at Kim's brother's house. Kim seems to be his only ally, a fellow Doctor at the same hospital with whom he has been friends with since university. She helps him and goes with him to Jerusalem, then letting his continue on to Bethlehem himself; where he is received as a very unwelcome visitor. He is confused that his wife is praised and revered for what she has done.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive achievement 9 Sep 2007
Amin Jaafari is a hard-working and talented surgeon at a busy Tel Aviv hospital, two generations away from his Arab origins. He is wealthy, popular with his Jewish colleagues, and devoted to his wife Sihem. The novel opens with Amin taking charge of the chaos in the emergency room after a suicide bomber attacks a restaurant in the Hakirya district of Tel Aviv, killing 19 people including a group of schoolchildren at a birthday party. Subsequently Amin is stopped and searched four times by Israeli policemen on the way home. He only wakes up to his own misfortune when he learns that Sihem has been killed in the bombing and that her wounds correspond to those found on suicide bombers.
Amin refuses to believe that Sihem could have committed such an act of terror. He expects her to return soon from Kfar Kanna where she is visiting her old grandmother. Disbelief gives way to horror when Sihem's last letter, posted from Bethlehem, turns up in his post box. As a consequence of Sihem's attack Amin's life, ambition, values and friendships disintegrate. He locks himself up in a nightmare of drink and despair in which he reflects on every aspect of his life, nationality and marriage. A Jewish colleague, Kim Yehuda, calls Amin back from the brink. He retraces Sihem's last journey from Tel Aviv to Bethlehem and back again. There Amin is repeatedly beaten up: by the Shin Bet, his Tel Aviv neighbours and Palestinian militants in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Jenin that were under siege by the Israeli army. Nevertheless he clings to his belief that as a surgeon his fight consists in recreating life in the place where death has chosen to conduct its manoeuvres.
The Attack uses both suicide bombing and the fate of many Israeli citizens who are of Arab origin.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Perspective 30 July 2007
I could not put this book down. A disturbing perspective on the division in Arab Israeli society, this chilling tale is told from the perspective of a highly acclaimed Arab doctor living and working in Tel Aviv.Do we ever know what our spouses are really thinking? Can we see inside a loved one's head? The style is sparse but illuminating, the subject matter is at once current, shocking and very thought provoking. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it ! 25 Oct 2006
By sgeoff
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Amazon synopsis gives a lot about the story. What can be said here is that this is an outstanding novel, dealing with serious issues within a plotline that has you keen to find out what happens as the main character continues his search for truth. The hopelessness of people living in the Occupied Territories has rarely been so well portrayed, and the story kept me engaged from first line to last. A brilliant book, which I can recommend without reservation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful topic 10 Sep 2007
As I live in the Middle East I am drawn to this type of book to aid my understanding of some of the conflicts and to understand the human element; the cause and effect of events in this area.

The central character, Dr Amin Jaafie, is a leading surgeon at Tel Aviv's main hospital. He uses his skills to repair the damage caused by the conflict surrounding him and to keep himself distanced from involvement in events. Unfortunately his wife holds much more extreme views and blows herself up in a full restaurant.
As Jaafie is forced to confront this fact he starts to search for reasons why and clues that he has missed along the way.
This takes us all on an eye-opening journey into Bethlehem and Jerusalem, where his views and pacifism place him on the 'wrong side'.

I don't think I'd say I 'enjoyed' it, it's not a fun topic, after all, but I thought it was fascinating and illuminating.
I felt the repetition of parts of the prologue at the end, was excellent and I read the book with enthusiasm.

Peter Sutcliffe's wife had no clue that he was the Yorkshire Ripper, so I guess it would be possible that Sihem covered her tracks so effectively. It bothered me though that she carried the attack out on a restaurant full of children - how does that help the cause?

Unlike 'The Swallows of Kabul', this book was set in Israel rather than Afghanistan. I found that fascinating as I've recently read 'When the Bulbul Stopped Singing' - Diary of the siege of Ramalla (Palestine) in 2002 and 'When I lived in Modern Times' by Linda Grant - A Jew travels to Palestine after WWII to begin a new life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Attack
The Attack wasn't just about the situation in the Middle East.

There was a bomb, and a man found out something terrible about his wife. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Fenella Fay
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what you think!
I already have two other books from this author (Morituri/Autumn of the Phantoms).I will save those reviews for another day. Read more
Published 6 months ago by booboolina
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring in my opinion
I totally couldn't get to end of it. There is some "action" there however for me it was going so slowwwww that I left in middle and its just a space taking, unfortunately.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic and Insightfull. A good read.
Beautifully written. I couldn't put it down from the first riveting pages to the solemn last. A journey made by a man consumed by grief, bewildered and unable to put all the pieces... Read more
Published 12 months ago by ginny
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the mind of a suicide bomber
Almost every day in some part of the world, the media will report a suicide bombing with people killed and many more maimed and seriously injured. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Dr R
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally profound
I had to keep reminding myself that it was the same author who wrote 'The Swallows of Kabul' because the style of writing was totally different. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amelia Ofori
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good.
A superbly written novel that brings you an interesting insight into the Arab Isreali conflict and at the heart of the novel is a strong plot, well written.
Published 20 months ago by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Storyline but imperfect prose
A successful Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv is completely devastated to discover his beatiful wife was the suicide bomber in a crowded restaurant. Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2011 by Kiwifunlad
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and engrossing
Amin Jaafie is an Israeli Arab and non-practising Muslim who works as a surgeon in Tel Aviv. He is devoted to his wife Sihem and life is good. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2011 by Julia Flyte
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful book
In three words: Emotive, touching, shocking.

Dr Amin Jaafari is an Israeli Arab. He has put himself through medical school and now works in a Tel Aviv hospital as a... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2011 by Boof
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