The Swallows of Kabul

The Swallows of Kabul

Book - 2004
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"Surprisingly tender." -- The New York Times Book Review . Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this extraordinary 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 of sickness and despair.
Desperate, exhausted Mohsen wanders through Kabul when he is surrounded by a crowd about to stone an adulterous woman. Numbed by the hysterical atmosphere 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 protagonists move toward their destinies.
The Swallows of Kabul is a dazzling novel written with compassion and exquisite detail by one of the most lucid writers about the mentality of Islamic fundamentalists and the complexities of the Muslim world. Yasmina Khadra brings readers into the hot, dusty streets of Kabul and offers them an unflinching but compassionate insight into a society that violence and hypocrisy have brought to the edge of despair.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2004.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781400033768
Characteristics: 195 pages ; 20 cm


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Aug 16, 2017

this was so boring and senseless

byagoodfire Nov 18, 2015

Incredibly well written with compassion about how intolerably oppressive conditions are changing the lives of decent individuals. Although this is his first book set outside of Algeria, the way the author writes with such detail bolsters the reason that he is a bestseller in France.

Jun 05, 2015

Overall, a deeply disturbing story of the lives of women living in the Muslim world. Tragic and repulsive to any human who believes in the value of being born a woman. This book is fiction; however, it is absolute truth to the reality of women living in these countries

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 05, 2015

Under the Taliban, life in Kabul has been sucked dry of compassion, love, intimacy and everything else that makes life bearable. Against this backdrop two ill-fated couples cross paths with tragic results. You will remember them with sadness for a very long time.

Sep 29, 2013

Dry, boring, poorly written and disconnected-the two stories do not make much sense. The book is less than 200 pages, but found my self dragging to finish it for the sake of it. If you really want to read about the middle east, I'd suggest you grab, The Kite Runner!

Jul 22, 2013

I loved it. But the way he describes some of the laws and how they're enforced was eye opening and made me angry. Like when Mohsen laughed in public and was punished for it by a taliban agent, then was forced by the same taliban agent to join the congregation in the mosque, leaving his wife to wait in the sun.

Apr 11, 2013

not liked at all very much waist
of my time

Apr 04, 2013

Very stark story of two men, their wives and their coping during the harsh rule of the Taliban in Kabul. The momentum builds from casual matter-of-fact observations by the husbands on the restrictions, denunciations and executions seen daily, to the confusion, insanity and destruction those sights bring to their personal lives. The account of a wife forced to wait in full sun wearing the full burqa and gloves is so vivid I almost felt the heat in my brain. Thankfully, the book is short.

Mar 14, 2011

Susie recommends

Sep 16, 2010

This book written by a male was translated into English. I think some of the beauty of the story might not have translated very well. It describes the terrible anguish and despair the Afgans have suffered living in a country that's been torn apart. There was one compelling passage about the male character looking at the woman uncovering from her Burka being shocked, suddenly seeing her as a human rather than an object. He was so used to seeing blue Burkas around town he'd forgotton these were females.

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