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The Swallows Of Kabul Paperback – 5 May 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099466023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099466024
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym of Algerian author Mohamed Moulessehoul, who chose to write under his wife's name to avoid censorship while serving as an army officer.

In 2001 Khadra and his family moved to France. He became director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris in November 2007. In 2011 he was awarded the Grand Prix de Littérature Henri Gal by the Académie française, for his whole body of work.

Khadra is the author of more than 20 novels, including The Swallows of Kabul and The Attack, both shortlisted for the IMPAC literary award. Khadra's work has been translated into 33 languages. The Nobel Prize Winner for Literature J. M. Coetzee has described Khadra as 'a novelist of the first order.'

Photo copyright E. Robert-Espalieu

Product Description

Review

"A stiflingly powerful evocation of a country in which war has found a homeland" (Chris Power The Times)

"Inspiring... Evokes the feeling of a nation's collective suffocation" (Daily Telegraph)

"Harrowing... Remarkable... Khadra's simple, elegant prose, finely drawn characters and chilling insights prepare the way for the terrible climax... A superb meditation on the fate of the Afghan people" (Publishers Weekly)

"A powerful human story" (Financial Times)

"Intense, elegant, despairing prose...deeply affecting" (Guardian)

Book Description

A powerful story about four Kabul civilians drawn together by their daily struggles in life under the Taliban.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on 28 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban regime, this impressive novel takes us into the lives of two couples: Mohsen Ramat, who comes from a family of wealthy shopkeepers whom the Taliban has destroyed; Zunaira, his beautiful wife, who was once a brilliant teacher and is now no longer allowed to leave her home without an escort or covering her face with a burqa. Intersecting their world is Atiq Shaukat, 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 and exhausted Mohsen wanders through Kabul when he is surrounded by a crowd about to stone an adulterous woman. Numbed by the hysterical atmosphere of the crowd 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 characters move toward their destinies.
The novel shows in a realistic way how women survive in a world where they can be beaten up for laughing with their husband. It shows a country where people have been deprived of almost everything. Where the Taliban rule, love between a man and a woman, joy, music, freedom have been banned, replaced by violence and hatred, all in the name of God. A stunning read of high literary quality.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Benoy N. Shah on 17 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is simply a superb book which comes very highly recommended. It is a fictional story set in modern day Afghanistan, under the fierce rule of the Taliban. The author succeeds in conveying to his readers the true feelings and oppression of day to day life under such a regime. A world in which women have no rights at all, where simply laughing in the street could earn you a lashing and listening to music is banned and where public executions by stone-throwing, a practice not seen in England for centuries, was rife until very recently. Though disturbing at times the book is a very real journey into a culture and civilisation many of us have heard much about via the press but few can imagine the thoughts of its people - until now. A Must read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 27 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I enjoy reading about lifestyles different from my own.
When I started this book I had doubts that I would enjoy it but before I knew it, I had finished - because I became absorbed into it.
It was fascinating to read about what life may be like under the taliban.
The story is very interesting, but possibly disturbing.
Definitely a book to keep for re-reading again.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Mukhtar on 8 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a good read and outines the mood of Afganistan under the Taliban.
This story focuses on two relationsships. One of Muhsen and his wife Zunaira and the other of Atiq and his wife Mussarrat. These two couples live in the same area however, they do not know each other.
It shows how Zunaira is effected by what the Taliban has done to thier country and the effects its having on society. Zunaira is educated and pretty much a liberal minded young lady until the Taliban come along and change it all for her. She has to start to wear the Burqa and she is completely against this and feels the Burqa has taken away her identity and her presonality. She is no longer able to work and her degree in law are recognised as mere papers that mean nothing. Zunaira is against public hanging and stoning and after her husband admits to stoning a women then thier relationship begins to deteriorate significanty.

Then there is Atiq and wife musarrat. Atiq a jailer bored of his job and his ill wife. Who is not able to cook, clean or be a wife due to her illness. This effects Atiq considerably he hates the idea of going home to his wife and he starts to talk to himself while in public place due to the effect of her illness on him.
He feels guily for how he feels for her and that he does not love her anymore. He feels obliged in keeping her as his wife as she nursed him while he was ill. His friends begin to see his mood swings in public places and the effect of him become mentally ill from this and see that he is depressed and that he needs to take on a new wife.

Then a young lady enters the prison cell for killing her husband. This is were all four lifes are tangled together and effects all concerned.

This book is completely recomended. It is serious but to the point. It is well written and has a meaning to make people realise the tenstions the taliban has caused in Afghanistan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
Interesting glimpse into life in Taliban controlled Afghanistan- militiamen armed with whips forcing passers-by in the mosque; resentful educated women denied any independence; wounded war veterans begging; regular executions of 'wrong-doers' watched by cheering crowds.
In this world live two unrelated couples: jailer Atiq and his dying wife Musserat, and dejected Mohsen and the beautiful Zunaira -the latter an educated couple whose dreams have been crushed. As Zunaira says about the obligatory burqua:
'Of all the burdens they've put on us, that's the most degrading...It cancels my face and takes away my identity and turns me into an object...If I put that damn veil on, I'm neither a human being nor an animal. I'm just an affront, a disgrace, a blemish that has to be hidden.'
The total change to the people's lives is perhaps nowhere more vividly brought out than when an old man says 'in an almost inaudible quaver: "Do you think we'll ever be able to hear music in Kabul one day?" '
This is, as I've said, interesting and indeed moving, but I didn't feel the novel particularly grabbed me. Even at the end when there's a twist that brings the couples together, it had dawned on me a chapter or two previously what they would do.
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