Monday, June 9, 2014

Three top books on Afghanistan

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Afghanistan. One title on the list:
The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

In a bare room in a war zone, a woman nurses her comatose husband, who has a bullet lodged in his neck.

The jihadist fighter was injured in a spat about honour rather than in battle.

The nameless woman has been abandoned by her family and left to care for him and two young daughters alone.

While tending to her husband, she begins to reveal grievances and confide long-buried secrets to the unconscious man. Emboldened by his silence, her outpourings become ever more shocking as she rails against men, war, marriage and God.

The fighting taking place outside – gunfire, explosions and screams are heard – intrudes from time to time.

The wounded husband becomes her patience stone of Persian legend. The magic stone – to which "you confess everything … you don't dare tell anyone" – absorbs all your secrets, until one day it explodes and sets the confessor free from torment.

Rahimi's haunting, beautifully written and extraordinarily powerful novella lifts the veil on the harsh lives of Afghan women.

The novelist and film-maker fled Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and sought asylum in France. For this – his fourth – novel, he chose French over his native Dari. It won the Prix Goncourt, France's top literary prize.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Five top books about the struggle for Afghanistan; Top ten books on Afghanistan; Five top books on foreigners in Afghanistan; Five books on Afghanistan; and Five best books about Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue