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The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi
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The Patience Stone (2008)

by Atiq Rahimi

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English (16)  French (4)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
There is a theatrically and poeticism to this piece that’s mesmerizing. I would like to re-read it again when I’m alone and things are quiet so I can let the novel’s own rhythm set the pace.

( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Apr 4, 2013 |
A gripping story that I read in 2 sittings. The mood and setting are sparse but the tone is poetic and at times chilling. I was quite moved by the woman's voice and by her range of raw emotions and wrenching experiences as they are revealed to her comatose husband as she cares for him. The author does a very credible job....and I wonder how Afghani women would react/respond to this book.

The talented, insightful and handsome Khaled Hosseini quotes Rahimi as stating, "My acquired language, the one I have chosen, gives me a kind of freedom to express myself, away from this self-censorship and an unconscious shame that dwells in us from childhood." (What would Freud say to that?!) ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is an appalling book. It's about a woman who nurses her husband, who is in a coma. He won't wake up, and that drives her to speak more and more candidly about her life. She reveals an entire dictionary of the mistreatment of women by Afghan men. In the course of the book she is also threatened with rape; she masturbates in front of him; she describes how she made her menstrual blood apear to be the blood from her hymen; she recounts the times she was beaten; she reveals he wouldn't let her kiss him; and in the end she talks about his infertility.

The book isn't appalling because of any of that. It's awful because it uses literature to tell those stories. People apparently read Rahimi to know about the situation of Afghan women. One reviewer on the back cover says "we know so little about the day-to-day life of people in Afghanistan..." But this isn't what literature should be. What kind of reader feels she needs to get her news about Afghanistan from novels and plays? What sense of literature do such readers have?

Then there's the question of the literary form. "The Patience Stone" is written as a stage play: it calls out, on every page, to the potential director or playwright, giving instructions. Everything takes place in one room. All sorts of artifices are arranged so that the action never needs to leave the room. Footsteps are heard dying away and approaching. A gun barrel comes through a window. A tank, offstage, shatters a window. What does any of that stage machinery have to do with the situation of women in Afghanistan? One reviewer on Amazon says the author "keeps the props simple": they're minimal, but unremitting, and all of them are clichés. The idea of the man who never moves, and the woman who soliloquizes, owes something to Beckett, but it owes nothing to any play written more recently than 1950. The staginess of "The Patience Stone" would be awkward and intrusive even if it didn't have to do with truths about Afghanistan. Staginess also explains some of the infelicities in the narration (this despite the fact that a number of reviewers think it is beautifully written). One reviewer on Amazon notes that "Rahimi uses a third-person point of view to keep us out of the protagonist's head and make her revelations to her husband more powerful (I think this was a smart decision). But in several passages, the narrator tries to intrude on her thoughts by interpreting her actions for the reader." That's a good example of the sort of artificial construction that Rahimi needed in order to sustain his implausible premise -- that the woman tells all her stories to the man, whom she thinks isn't listening. It's hard for me to imagine Rahimi's reasons for setting this entire novel as a one-scene play, especially given that he's working on a film adaptation. I can only think that he understands minimalist or absurdist theater as a kind of optimal expressive vehicle. But how could that be an adequate understanding of theater?

This book is an excellent example of the misuse of literature for the purpose of revealing truths about the world. There's hardly a worthier subject, or a less appropriate vehicle. ( )
2 vote JimElkins | Jan 13, 2012 |
Rahimi is a talented author who gets to the heart of things. He has a feel for his subject matter and manages to convey his insight extraordinarily well, even in translation. This book was as moving as his other books.

It is about an unnamed Afghan woman, who tends to her comatose (hero) husband for weeks with no visible improvement in his condition. She prays deeply and loves him deeply, but never gets any response to keep her faith strong. As the weeks pass, she starts losing faith and the rage builds up in her, and she starts talking and revealing her innermost thoughts and experiences to her “absent” but very much present husband.

She has lived her whole life in a repressive society where women have not been allowed to participate in life and society; they remain on the margins. And given the chance, she now vents her emotions and the result is pretty harrowing, for her and the reader.

Although the book is powerful, I didn’t love it as much as Earth and Ashes, which remains my favourite and A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fear, but there were great moments of clarity that distinguishes Rahimi from other authors.
1 vote akeela | Sep 8, 2011 |
I have read a few Prix Goncourt winners, most of which have been pretty good. It has become one of those awards I take notice of, if not actually rushing out to buy. The Patience Stone is by Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi. He now resides in France and writes in French, making him eligible for the Goncourt.

The Patience Stone is the story of a woman who tends to her seriously injured husband (they are never named in the book), shot during street fighting in their town. In her flashbacks to their relationships it becomes clear that he has been a bully and a distant husband. Now that he is in a coma, she is able to speak to him honestly for the first time. She tells him her views of their life together, her views of him as a husband and her secrets. He becomes her 'sang-e saboor' ('patience stone'), a mythical immobile object into which thoughts and prayers can be poured and which absorbs them before exploding under their pressure.

I enjoyed my previous Rahimi (Earth and Ashes), and The Patience Stone was not a disappointment. Having the woman talking to a comatose body was a device that worked really well, allowing her to express her anger and her guilt towards the man. Her story was disturbing and touching, but without unnecessary excesses, making it both believable and accessible. There was a slightly absurd denouement, which really didn't need to be there, but generally, this was another good book from a really interesting writer.
1 vote GlebtheDancer | Jan 29, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Although Rahimi creates a specific person, he never attempts to create much empathy. The woman pays a terrible price for self-revelation and the reader gains no more insight than might be gleaned from a garbled nightmare inspired by a late night-news item about the atrocities in Afghanistan.
added by lkernagh | editThe Independent, Alev Adil (Feb 26, 2010)
 
It explores fundamental questions: love, sex, marriage, war and the repression entailed by a demanding religion. Rahimi gives his heroine a voice to speak the woes and indignities suffered by tens of thousands of women in the Muslim world, who have been marginalised, maltreated, and condemned to silence and endurance.
added by lkernagh | editThe Scotsman, Allan Massie (Feb 6, 2010)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atiq Rahimiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Estany, ImmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
From the body by the body with the body
Since the body and until the body.
-Antonin Artaud
Dedication
This tale, written in memory of N.A. - an Afghan poet savagely murdered by her husband - is dedicated to M.D.
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The room is small. Rectangular.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In Persian folklore, Syngue Sabour is the name of a magical black stone, a patience stone, which absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. It is believed that the day it explodes, after having received too much hardship and pain, will be the day of the Apocalypse. But here, the Syngue Sabour is not a stone but rather a man lying brain-dead with a bullet lodged in his neck. His wife is with him, sitting by his side. But she resents him for having sacrificed her to the war, for never being able to resist the call to arms, for wanting to be a hero, and in the end, after all was said and done, for being incapacitated in a small skirmish.… (more)

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