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The Attack [Hardcover]

Yasmina Khadra
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 July 2006
Dr. Amin Jaafie, an Israeli Arab, is a surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv. Dedicated to his work, respected and admired by his colleagues and community, he represents integration at its most successful. He has learned to live with the violence and chaos that plague his city, and on the night of a deadly bombing in a local restaurant, he works tirelessly to help the shocked and shattered patients brought to the emergency room. But this night of turmoil and death takes a horrifyingly personal turn. His wife's body is found among the dead, with massive injuries, the police coldly announce, typical of those found on the bodies of fundamentalist suicide bombers. As evidence mounts that his wife, Sihem, was responsible for the catastrophic bombing, Dr. Jaafie is torn between cherished memories of their years together and the inescapable realization that the beautiful, intelligent, thoroughly modern woman he loved had a life far removed from their comfortable, assimilated existence together. 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 incalculable spiritual costs. Intense and humane, devoid of political bias, hatred, and polemic, intensely thoughtful, sensitive and felt, it displays a profound understanding of what can seem impossible to understand.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043401558X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434015580
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,124,848 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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and engrossing 28 Jun 2011
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
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. Until one day a suicide bomber blows up a restaurant - killing 19 people including many children - and all the evidence suggests that his wife is the perpetrator. As Jaafie moves through denial to grief, confusion and anger, he is determined to understand what could have driven his wife to do such a thing. His quest will take him around Israel and the West Bank, allowing us the reader to see the different sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

This is a gripping book which is hard to put down. You feel Jaafie's emotions throughout. Like Justin in The Constant Gardener, his need to understand a side of his wife that he didn't previously know about will lead him into dangerous situations.

While there were occasional clunky notes which are probably down to the translation, this is overall a moving and engrossing read.
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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 2 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 5 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 5 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 10 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 10 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 10 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 19 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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anguish...
An Algerian friend gently suggested that I update my list of Algerian writers, from Camus and Roy, to an "Algerian du socle," to turn Le Pen's formulation on its head, and proposed... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2011 by John P. Jones III
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