Book Review--The Swallows of Kabul

This is a book I got purely by chance, as I visited the library near my home.  It was a place I frequented, a habit I desisted during the covid period and couldn't reboot even after the pandemic threat got over.  And I consider the visit worthy exercise as I found this book- The Swallows of Kabul. 

The book is available on Amazon.

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I love this book for how the author has dealt with a human tragedy that would have been impossible for me to conjure up until I read this book.  Not that human tragedies haven't happened in the world, in wars, oppression and religious onslaught.  But when all these happened in Kabul!  A war-ravaged Kabul, shamed and spirit-killed by the Taliban, turned into a place of sorrow, fear and hell for its inhabitants.  Showcasing how all those impacted their humanity, the author presented a classic piece to the book-lovers.  

"Since the ascendancy of the Taliban the lives of Moheseen and the beautiful wife, Zunaira, have been gradually destroyed.  Mohsen's dream of becoming a diplomat has been shattered and Zunaira can no longer even appear on the streets of Kabul unveiled.  Atiq is a jailer and the wretchedness of his job have seeped into his soul.  Atiq's wife, Musarrat, is suffering from an illness no doctor can cure.  The lives of these four people are about to become inexplicably intertwined through death, imprisonment and extraordinary self-sacrifice." 

The book is a masterpiece written in elegant, lyrical prose.  Presents scene after scene the unfortunate peoples' heartbreaks and their struggle forward holding on to their humanity, their only asset to fight forth or forsake.  The author stands out for daring it under compelling personal circumstances.  Originally written in French, the book was translated into English.

I recommend this book to those who want a closer insight into the deplorable and lamentable lives of a people under the Taliban.  

How the author drew it to a close made me confused and needed more clarity. 

And to complete this review, I took more than two weeks, not every minute patting my laptop keys, but not being able to do that, being summoned by the dull home chores.  Our first-floor apartment is listed for sale, and whenever the agent messages to let us know the arrival of someone to view it, I have to do my share of chores-cleaning, wiping, dusting, and whatever to keep it perfect for the viewers' eyes to pop out in absolute delight.    

About the author 

The author is Mohammed Moulessehoul, who wrote under the pen name Yasmina Khadra, a woman name, a high-ranking officer with the Algerian army.  To read more about his visit, here.  

About the translator:

The book is translated from its original language, French, to English by John Cullen.

An Excerpt from the Book

Zunaira shakes her head.  "I don't feel like coming home heartsick, Mohsen.  The things that go on in the trees will just ruin my day, to no purpose.  I can't come face-to-face with horrors and just keep on walking as if nothing's happened.  Furthermore, I refuse to wear a burqa.  Of all the burdens they've put on us, that is the most degrading.  The Shirt of Nessus wouldn't do as much damage to my dignity as that wretched getup.  It conceals my face and takes away my identity and turns me into an object.  Here, at least, I'm me, Zuniara, Mohsen Ramat's wife, age thirty-two, former magistrate, dismissed by obscurantists without a hearing and without compensation, but with enough self-respect left to brush my hair every day and pay attention to my clothes.  If I put that dammed 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.  That is too hard to deal with.  Especially for someone who was a lawyer who worked for women's rights.  Please, I don't want you to think for a minute that I'm putting some sort of act.  I would like to, you know, but unfortunately my heart is not in it anymore.  Don't ask me to give up my name, my features, the colour of my eyes, and the shape of my lips so I can take a walk through squalor and desolation.  Don't ask me to become something less than a shadow, an anonymous thing rustling around in a hostile place.  You know how thin-skinned I am, Mohsen.  I'd be angry at myself for being angry at you when you were only trying to please me."

The review is for the reading challenge, by Blog Chatter.  #TBRChallenge.