David's Reviews > The Swallows of Kabul

The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
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's review
May 12, 2010

liked it
Read from May 12 to 13, 2010

** spoiler alert ** I'd probably rate it a 2.5.

What I liked about the book is it's look into Middle-eastern society. It demonstrates the oppressive nature of Islam, and the duplicitous nature of the people who live in places governed by Islamic law. Men seek only to get along by appealling to the good graces of the reigning regime. There is a pervading culture of anger and hatred, but in the privacy of the home, the book descibes the people's hatred for that culture. That was one thing I regret not really knowing in my time in the Middle East: how people lived day-to-day. We only had brief contact with the people and it wasn't enough to really get to know them.

It also described the devistated state of Afghanistan under the Taliban. Mohsen (the educated young man in the story) says, "...the Taliban have taken advantage of a period of uncertainty. They've dealt a terrible blow to people who were already defeated. But they haven't finished us off, not yet. Our duty is to convince ourselves of that fact"(77). He ends up giving into the demands of the Taliban police, and his wife hates him for it. Another character has the outlook that "Life is nothing but an inexorable process of erosion...whether you neglect yourself or take care of yourself...birth dooms you to death; it's a rule" (119). When all that is left is fighting for a piece of desert, it saps all hope for the situation.

There could be some symbolism in the last part of the book. There is a man who has fallen in love with the beauty of a woman, given up the life of his wife in a plan to save her, and, in the end, goes mad as he's unable to find her. The woman represents Afghanistan and the man's desire for her consumes him, as it consumes those fighting for the country today.

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Reading Progress

05/12/2010 page 3
1.44% "Incredible introduction. Gives the feeling that I had while in the middle east."

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