Kim's Reviews > The Swallows of Kabul

The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
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Jan 04, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction, political-fiction, violent-hard-to-read

I wish I had written down my impressions of this book immediately after reading it, because it was somewhat too complex to recall. It is not the sort of book I'd like to read again. Yasmina Khadra is a pseudonym, the author is an Algerian officer - a man - who used a pen name to avoid censorship from the military. The Swallows of Kabul follows two couples under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Khadra's handling of misogyny and other forms of brutality are sophisticated, by which I mostly mean that he is not heavy-handed or preachy. He presents an even perspective on how all people are affected when women - or anyone group of people - are treated as chattel, and invisible chattel at that. One man's obsession with seeing and possessing one woman who does not culturally/legally "belong" to him create horrific results for many others, while another man's thinking and unthinking participation in the brutal death of a sex worker and the imprisonment of his wife dissolve his sanity. I thought this book was an excellent warning against/artistic experiment with dehumanization and the subtle and not so subtle ways it pushes people to violence.
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