The Swallows of Kabul

Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym of Algerian army officer Mohammed Moulessehoul, who adopted the tactic to avoid submitting maunscripts to the army censor. Originally written in French, The Swallows of Kabul tells the story of ‘ordinary’ people struggling to survive (and more often than not failing to do so) under the brutal Taliban regime. Like The Sirens of Baghdad, which I read last year, it is a beautifully written, if rather despairing book that places its well-drawn characters in extraodinary situations as they become dehumanised by the realities of living in a society run by religious fundamentalists and criminals. It is a novel that might be criticised for its one-dimensional bleakness – the moments of humanity within it are brief and inevitably destined to fail – and in that sense it is not especially complex, multi-layered writing, but Khadra writes from an unique perspective and it is a voice that should be heard.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Swallows of Kabul

  1. jayne

    having read this book I was impressed at the sensitivity of the writer. I felt the portrayal of the women was particularly sensitive and moving. I agree – more people should read this kind of literature.

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