The extraordinary work of the Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi allows us a rare insight into Afghanistan. After EARTH AND ASHES (published around the world and made into a feature film) comes an amazing short novel about an Afghan student seeking freedom from politics and religious fundamentalism.
Born in Afghanistan in 1962, Atiq Rahimi fled to France in 1984 to escape the Soviet coup. There he has made a name as a writer, film and documentary maker of exceptional note. The feature film of Earth and Ashes was realeased in 2005 to great acclaim and Rahimi is about to publish in France a book of his photographs of Afghanistan. He has been heavily involved in Afghan cultural life since the American invasion, particularly in the creation of a 'Writers' House' in Kabul. He lives in Paris.
Rahimi (The Patience Stone) overcomes a stuttering start to deliver an original and utterly personal account of the pressures a totalitarian society exerts on the individual in 1979 Afghanistan, before the Soviet invasion. After soldiers brutally beat Farhad, a sensitive 21-year-old student, he begins to grasp the less obvious but equally horrific abuse of Afghan women by the patriarchal, Islamo-fascist order. When Mahnaz, a grieving widow, rescues Farhad from the Kabul gutter where he lies bleeding and unconscious, he must come to grips with his own father's ignominious behavior and with the drastic plight of women like Mahnaz. In a particularly imaginative twist, Farhad becomes obsessed with the elaborate carpets that are such a part of daily life, realizing eventually that these beautiful household objects are merely metaphors for the ongoing tragedy that is the existence of the women who made them. A flawless translation does justice to Rahimi's taut, highly calibrated prose. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The novella is verbal photography...[it] seems the real
thing...seamlessly translated -- Russell Celyn Jones * The Times
A taut and brilliant burst of anguished prose...both a wonderful and a dreadful little book * Guardian *
A beautiful piece of writing -- Ruth Pavey * Independent *
Short but powerful...The beauty of the language lends this work a haunting clarity * The Herald *
[An] intimate gem of a story...bewitching * Scotland on Sunday *