The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
A Novel

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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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Yasmina Khadra

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Yasmina Khadra is the feminine pseudonym adopted by Mohammed Moulessehoul to avoid military censorship. Moulessehoul was born in the Algerian Sahara in 1955 and at one time was an officer in the Algerian military. His recent fiction trilogy on Middle Eastern realities—The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, and The Sirens of Baghdad—has been widely acclaimed and translated. Moulessehoul is now retired from the military and living in France. Donald Nicholson-Smith and Alyson Waters are both seasoned translators. This is their first translation together.
Published December 18, 2007 by Anchor. 210 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Swallows of Kabul

Kirkus Reviews

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Mohsen Ramat, a young intellectual, is caught up in the frenzy of the prostitute’s “execution,” participates in the stoning, and thereafter endangers his marriage by confessing this to his wife Zunaira, a former “lawyer, who worked for women’s rights.” Meanwhile, Atiq Shaukat, a wounded veteran o...

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The Guardian

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We are accustomed to think of the Taliban as privileging men over women, but here it is the men who crumble fastest.

Jun 05 2004 | Read Full Review of The Swallows of Kabul: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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after an extended argument about the incident, Ramat persuades Zunaira to go for a stroll in downtown Kabul and the couple is harassed and nearly brutalized by Taliban soldiers.

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London Review of Books

Reading his work one would never know that the Algerian army disappeared several thousand citizens (most of whom, as the government now admits, ‘had nothing to do with armed violence’), or that it detained tens of thousands of suspects in open-air camps in the Sahara, or that – according to Souai...

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Bookmarks Magazine

$18.95 NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars "...The Swallows of Kabul is a surprisingly tender book.

Oct 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Swallows of Kabul: A Novel

Classic Book Club

And, in fact, the process of the love story itself was difficult to read as it involved huge sacrifices from several characters, and also seemed morally wrong, to me, in the first place (I think I’d have been disappointed if the love story had worked out therefore).

May 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Swallows of Kabul: A Novel

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