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The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
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The Swallows of Kabul (original 2002; edition 2005)

by Yasmina Khadra, John Cullen (Translator)

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948539,163 (3.64)56
Member:Rosareads
Title:The Swallows of Kabul
Authors:Yasmina Khadra
Other authors:John Cullen (Translator)
Info:Anchor (2005), Paperback, 195 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Kabul, Taliban, Despair

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The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra (2002)

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» See also 56 mentions

English (44)  French (3)  Norwegian (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
GUT-PUNCH! (consider yourself warned.)

this is a harrowing novel, but absolutely beautifully written. it's a book everyone should read, particularly privileged people of the western world - those who enjoy freedom, democracy, personal rights and liberties. (not to sound scolding or finger-wagging. but...we really have no idea and get caught up in the smallest annoyances and pettinesses. things that are not life-and-death issues, yet are responded to as though they are.

if you are looking for a fictional, though believable, glimpse of lives in afghanistan under the taliban, read this novel. ( )
  DawsonOakes | Aug 4, 2014 |
Wow, great book. A chilling desolate prologue. Hints of tale of despair, yielding a spindled thin hope of overcoming.
“Women mummified in shrouds the color of fever or fear, are utterly anonymous”. ( )
  BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
A depressing little novel, a little strange. ( )
  MarieAlt | Mar 31, 2013 |
A book of utter desolation -- beautifully written, but heartwrenching in the world it depicts. (And U have no cause to believe it is an untrue view. Kabul, once a city of so much wonder, has been utterly changed since wars and political climate there changes.) You cannot read this book, and then pretend to be unaware of what happens when a fundamentalist view takes over ordinary people.

The story roughly follows the lives of two couples in Kabul: Moshen and Zunaira, once part of the educated middle class, and Atiq and Misarrat, the jailer and his dying wife. Stories of love and devotion, but not played out like a fairy tale.

The writing is stark in places, luminescent in others. Though the book is small, it took me longer to read, because I had to ruminate on certain passages. This was not a quick, easy read. Some parts were chilling in the brutishness, others made my soul sing. (An example of the latter, which rang true to me: "Music is the true breath of life. We eat so we won't starve to death. We sing so we can hear ourselves live." (p 84). And at another point "Basically, being alive means keeping yourself ready for the sky to fall in on you at any time." (p118)

Legend has it that the women of Afghanistan were the most beautiful and beguiling in the world, and that the burqa was instituted to protect men from being driven mad by that beauty.
I read somewhere that the title refers to the flocks of women in burqas. ( )
  bookczuk | Dec 23, 2011 |
The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra (a pen name for Mohammed Moulessehoul) is a tale of two couples, Mohsen and Zunaira and Atiq and Musarrat. Atiq works as a jailer, hardened by his experiences in the war against the Russians and his work. During the war, Musarrat saved his life, and in gratitude Atiq married her. Now she’s dying. Mohsen and Zunaira were part of the educated middle class before the Taliban takeover. Mohsen hasn’t found a place or purpose for himself, and, as a woman, Zunaira’s activities are restricted. The paths of these four people cross in a most unexpected manner, and almost everyone ends in ruin.
The story undulates between inaction and action, thought and speech, indifference and concern. Despair lingers over everything. Slow to start, the narration grows in intensity towards the feverish end. Short and quietly intense, this book will stay with you if you stay with it.
EJ 11/2011
  PeskyLibrary | Nov 7, 2011 |
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Allá por el quinto infierno, un tornado abre los volantes de su vestido en la estrambótica danza de una bruja en trance; tanta histeria ni siquiera consigue sacudirle el polvo a las dos palmeras calcificadas que se alzan hacia el cielo como los brazos de un martirizado.
In the middle of nowhere, a whirlwind spins like a sorceress flinging out her skirts in a macabre dance; yet not even this hysteria serves to blow the dust off the calcified palm trees thrust against the sky like beseeching arms.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099466023, Paperback)

Moshen and his wife, Zunaira, met at the university and once looked forward to a happy and prosperous life together. But Moshem's dream of becoming a diplomat, halted by the war with Russia, dies with the ascendancy of the Taliban. Zunaira, formerly a lawyer who worked for women's rights, can no longer even appear on the streets of Kabul without a veil over her face. It is only in their own home that they can be themselves. One day, unable to resist Moshen's pleas, Zunaira dons her burqa and goes to market with him. The outing turns into a nightmare. Atiq, a veteran of the Russian war, is now a part-time jailer who watches over those condemned to death. The darkness of the prison and the wretchedness of his job have seeped into his soul. His home offers little respite from his rage and misery; his wife Musarrat, is suffering from an illness no doctor can cure and even the most furvent prayers cannot alleviate. As Atiq begins to lose all faith in his own ability to survive the arbitary demands and extreme cruelties of the Taliban, he is drawn to Zanaira, now in prison awaiting public execution. In a final act of defiance, Musarrat conceives a plan that will allow her husband to live and hope again...Already a best seller in France, "The Swallows of Kabul" brilliantly exposes the differences between religiosity and dangerous religious extremism. Written in spare, exquisite prose, it is an unforgettable portrait of life under a fascist theocracy.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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