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Swallows of Kabul

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  6,975 ratings  ·  799 reviews
Since the ascendancy of the Taliban the lives of Mosheen and his beautiful wife, Zunaira, have been gradually destroyed. Mosheen'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 who guards those who have been condemned to death; the darkness of prison and the wretchedness of his job ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published May 5th 2005 by Vintage Books (first published August 26th 2002)
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Carol I think it could work for 9th graders. The vocabulary is not too difficult. There are some mature themes in the book; however, I think 9th graders…moreI think it could work for 9th graders. The vocabulary is not too difficult. There are some mature themes in the book; however, I think 9th graders could handle it.(less)

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Jim Fonseca
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: french-authors
This is a grim story of the horrendous conditions in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 after the Taliban took over control from the Soviets.

While there is a story and a plot, the book is really about the desolate conditions in the war-scarred capital of Kabul: a dying city in a dying landscape of desert heat and dryness hemmed in by mountains. Half of the buildings are destroyed, including mosques. Some structures are simply fronts of buildings; business is conducted in pieces of buildings.


Ahmad Sharabiani
Les hirondelles de kaboul = Swallows of Kabul, Yasmina Khadra (Mohammed Moulessehoul)
The Swallows of Kabul is a novel by Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra. It was originally written and published in French.
You meet Atiq Shaukat, a jailer. His wife, Musarrat, is very sick and dying. She is a burden to him and made him late for work. He escorts a prostitute to be executed. You meet Mohsen Ramat. He's against the new Taliban rule. He is in the market place when he sees a prostitute being stoned to
Aly (Fantasy4eva)

I still feel very conflicted about this book.Originally, I had planned on giving it four stars. But after having thought about it some more, I'll be settling for three instead. (reasons below)

Whilst many mentioned that their biggest gripe was getting into the book, for me that was hardly an issue. I was pretty much full on engrossed from the first page. And with a opening page starting with a woman being stoned to death, how the hell can I not be? Not only did it really make me recoil from
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. "Furthermore, I refuse to wear a burqa. Of all the burdens tha have 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 cancels my face and takes away my identity and turns me into an object. Here, at least, I'm me, Zunaira, Mohsen Ramat's wife, age 32, 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 ...more
Guy Austin
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
The first two pages and I was hooked. This is a beautifully written novel that will punch you in the gut, have you wanting to throw it against a wall in disgust, make you weep for the tragic characters and fall in love with the writing.

“And yet it is also here, amid the hush of stony places and the silence of graves, in this land of dry earth and arid hearts, that our story is born, like the water lily that blooms in the stagnant swamp.”

You could almost read the first two pages and have a
Apr 06, 2009 added it
If I had a list of the most distressing books I've ever read, most likely this one would be near the top of the list! Like most people who read this short and horrifying book set in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime, I was appalled as I read about the brutality and misery that had become commonplace for everyone - most especially for women. So why read a book like this, ask readers who only read for pleasure and quickly abandon any book that might leave them feeling depressed. My answer is ...more
Rick Slane
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia, dark, novels, fiction
A short slowly developing novel of people facing a harsh Taliban regime, a perfect antidote for A Thousand Splendid Suns.
In the general sense, The Swallows of Kabul is a short novel of Afghan life under the Taliban, but (as with Philip Caputos' Acts of Faith) the real message of this political novel is more personal and more penetrating. Here is book made to question the logic of fundamentalist rule. Here also is an emotionally emptying story of how the central binding power of women has been systematically destroyed by Afghanistan’s culture of war. There are scathing commentaries given to the women of Kabul — ...more
A starkly grim picture of life in Kabul under the Taliban. It's written by an outsider so the events are not based on any personnel experience.
There is the Taliban is all of it's violence, whipping, stoning, executions and preaching. The characters include the jailer of a prison used to house women to be executed and his dying wife. Also there is an educated couple who have lost everything and the wife refuses to leave the house as she would have to wear a burka.
There is a lot of conflict
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reference to swallows in the title of this remarkable novel is to the burqa-clad women of Afghanistan during the years of the Taliban. Swathed in fabric from head to toe, they have been forced from public life and, as much as possible, rendered invisible, to preserve their "purity" and the honor of their families. The French-Algerian author, Khadra, heightens the incomprehensibility of this kind of faith-based segregation of genders even further by beginning and ending his story with the ...more
Amanda Lila
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Swallows of Kabul is a book that shows us a city turned into dirt and ruins because of all of the continuous war. Even the people themselves have become just as ugly as the city, which once was filled with music and happiness. Children excitedly following poor stray dogs to kill them, their innocence gone. People fighting to be the first to throw stones on a woman being executed in front of them. It made me want to throw the book out the window; so much injustice, so much sadness, so much ...more
Kim Allen-Niesen
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra is a heart piercing book about two couples living under the Taliban in Kabul. In one chapter a husband begs his wife to go for a walk with him and she finally agrees, only to have a solider abuse her and physically force her husband to attend the mosque, leaving her to stand in the heat boiling under a burka. The helplessness of both of them to protect each other in the face of such random brutality haunts me. A second couple is struggling to survive her ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-borrowed
There's no more painful love than the love you feel when you're in a railroad station and you exchange glances with someone whose train is headed in the other direction.

This book was read based on a recommendation by one of our library volunteers. With over five thousand ratings present on Goodreads, I find myself safely in the middle. The writing is simply beautiful and the author does an excellent job of placing us in Taliban ruled Afghanistan . I felt the concept of focusing on two different
Book Concierge
This short novel follows two couples in a Taliban-run Kabul. Mohsen comes from a family of wealthy shopkeepers; his wife, Zunaira, is a beautiful and brilliant teacher. The Taliban has destroyed their business and home, and Zunaira is no longer allowed to work. In contrast, we see Atiq, a jailer who has adopted the Taliban teachings, and his faithful and loving wife, Musarrat, who is dying of a debilitating illness.

Khadra writes with poetic detail about a city which the residents no longer
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: april-2011
I was very disappointed in this book. While it started out with many intriguing answers to questions I had about the Taliban and its treatment of woman, it ended on a note that I believe trivialized the impact of their rule.

The characters of this novel try in their small way tried to revolt against the Taliban, but found themselves within a society that devalues women and makes a male feel less so because they lose their right to defend the individualistic ability of their wives, daughters,
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it
A very interesting depiction of life after the Taliban took over in Afghanistan. What I found fascinating about this particular take on in, was how the author showed the reader how stressful the Taliban's rule was upon individuals. At one point of the book, a decision to take a walk, a simple walk, becomes monumental. Makes you think. As a whole, although interesting, it wasn't as enthralling as A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, or Reading Lolita in Tehran (yes, I know that's in Iran, ...more
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Ironic tale set in Kabul. Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohamed Moulessehoul, an Algerian. He writes using his wife's name and offers a fascinating look at life under the burka.
Vanessa Couchman
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A harrowing fictional account of life under the Taliban in Kabul, where women must envelop themselves from head to toe and renounce their careers and proper medical care; where men must comport themselves solemnly in the street and be herded at random into mosques to hear interminable diatribes from mullahs; where laughter, singing and dancing are forbidden; and where "justice" is meted out at the whim of the authorities.

Two couples live their restricted lives under the oppressive sun of the
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: algerian

Yes yes I know karen I said this book was good. Well when I was in high school I remember being told that colleges liked people who got bs or cs freshman year and worked their way up to as their senior year. These are called rising stars. On the other hand there are things like a clockwork orange. what I mean is the movie. It is fantastic, but long and suddenly the production team appears to have gotten bored and decided to end the movie for no particular reason. Thereby making the last
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Kabul, "the old sorceress," is the main character of this book, much as Egdon Heath is in a Thomas Hardy novel. The life paths of six Afghanis cross and re-cross there, their struggle to hold to the moral and beautiful ground into powder by the Russians and the Taliban and the endless war. One of them, Zunaira, is the personification of Kabul--her beauty holds as she is destroyed.

The writing is perfection--description of place and emotion precise and light and full of concrete color. I love
Rayene Mammeri
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: algerian
i needed a little more time to read this book because of how harsh and provoking some scenes are .
The book is about the sufferance that's going on in kaboul (capital of Afghanistan ) , under the reign of Taliban..
The characters (different social ranges and different points of view ) are Zuneira and her husband who are well educated , university graduates who lost everything , and atiq and his wife ..
And my favorite was Mussarat (such a brave lady , such serenity and so much love and selfness )
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. I knew that a book about the Taliban couldn’t be an uplifting one but it’s not the darkness and sadness that disappointed me. Of the four characters in the book, I felt a connection to none of them. At one point, I thought I was going to enjoy Mohsen and Zuneira’s storyline but it changed so quickly that I couldn’t. I also did not enjoy the wordiness of this book. I kept it at a 2 stars because I’m sure that the author did a good job of describing the devastating life and ...more
Amber Tucker
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Czarny Pies
May 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one. There are much better books in the Khadra catalogue that one should read first.
Recommended to Czarny by: Heard a French Language interview on the CBC with the author.
Shelves: french-lit
I wondered what an Arab from Algeria, currently a French Citizen, might have to tell about the social and cultural conflict in Afghanistan that I did not already know from reading the newspaper and having read half a dozen books on the region. The answer is nothing.

Most Afghani languages are in the Persian family and the region for most of its history has had very little to do the Mediterranean where Khadra was born and still lives. The fact that Khadra comes from a Muslim society does not
Bookmarks Magazine

The Swallows of Kabul, whose title derives from the flocks of women in burkas, puts an ordinary face on the Taliban's repressive regime. Mohsen releases his rage by participating in a stoning; his wife feels demeaned walking in public. By focusing on the lives of the two couples and giving the Taliban only walk-on roles, Khadra (the pseudonym for Algerian writer Mohammed Moulessehoul) renders the repression all the more sinister. His spare, taut prose depicts the bleakness that leads ordinary

Book Worm
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
It is a very clear,precise and acute description of life under the wicked Taliban. While the story focusses on the intertwined destiny of two couples and how they are mostly the products of their fate and destiny and silent and helpless onlookers, it gives the reader a very true idea about the brutalities of the zealots. The only negative aspect of this book is that it repeats the same descriptions sometimes using words which aren't needed but just to put them there for keep sake. It paints a ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
In our B/C, we’ve read a bunch of books that deal with Islam in various aspects and countries. The last one we read was a novel called The Swallows of Kabul, by Yasmina Khadra (a pseudonym – the author is an Algerian army officer). Can I just mention how glad I am to be an American, especially seeing as how I’m a woman? Ok, just thought I’d bring that up. The story is set in Taliban-tormented Kabul. No one is having a good time. Khadra brings it home that life is so depressing and ghastly, so ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
A really great little read. Written by Yasmina Khadra, the female pseudonym taken by Mohammed Moulessehoul in order to get his manuscript past military censors, the backstory on the author is almost as fascinating as the story he writes.
The story starts with the disgusting, yet riveting, stoning of a prostitute and launches the reader headfirst into a foreign, and seemingly backward and unimaginable world, where women are without rights, without a voice and without value. While the author
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Afghanistan is a human rights black hole. The book opens with an immediate innundation of Afghan Big Brother at his worst. People crowd into an arena to witness the stoning of a woman who has sinned against society. Swallows covers two couples' relationships (a younger and an older) within the marriages, then between the young woman and the older man. A surprising interaction develops between them. He becomes her jailor, but somehow breaks free from the strictures that have confined his need to ...more
Annette Jordan
" We've already been killed, all of us . It happened so long ago we've forgotten it"
A short but emotional book focusing on two couples in Kabul. Atiq is a veteran of the war with Russia, and his wife Musarrat is ill, Moshen and Zunaira are younger , well educated and struggling to find their way under the Taliban regime, particularly Zunaira, who once was a law student and now as a woman feels like less than a citizen. A simple trip to the market erupts into conflict and brings the couples
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100 Books Challenge: Swallows of Kabul October 2014 Group Read 9 7 Nov 23, 2014 09:18AM  
Middle East/North...: Swallows of Kabul by Yasimina Khadra 4 14 May 16, 2011 08:05PM  

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Yasmina Khadra (Arabic: ياسمينة خضراء, literally "green jasmine") is the pen name of the Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul.
Moulessehoul, an officer in the Algerian army, adopted a woman's pseudonym to avoid military censorship. Despite the publication of many successful novels in Algeria, Moulessehoul only revealed his true identity in 2001 after leaving the army and going into exile and
“Music is the true breath of life. We eat so we won't starve to death. We sing so we can hear ourselves live.” 78 likes
“We've already been killed, all of us. It happened so long ago, we've forgotten it.” 44 likes
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