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A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fearby Atiq Rahimi
"The modern history of Afghanistan is a tapestry rent and torn by invasions and internal conflict, both political and religious. Through it all, Afghanis have struggled to define what it means for them to be a united people. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear elegantly captures the essence of this tumultuous cultural narrative, with all its existential angst. To traverse the fractured mind of Farhad, the protagonist and narrator of Atiq Rahimi's latest novel, is to glimpse the broken soul of a battered and confused country." Shaun Randol, Words Without Borders (Read the entire Words Without Borders review)
Synopses & Reviews
Farhad is a typical student, twenty-one years old, interested in wine, women, and poetry, and negligent of the religious conservatism of his grandfather. But he lives in Kabul in 1979, and the early days of the pro-Soviet coup are about to change his life forever. One night Farhad goes out drinking with a friend who is about to flee to Pakistan, and is brutally abused by a group soldiers. A few hours later he slowly regains consciousness in an unfamiliar house, beaten and confused, and thinks at first that he is dead. A strange and beautiful woman has dragged him into her home for safekeeping, and slowly Farhad begins to feel a forbidden love for her—a love that embodies an angry compassion for the suffering of Afghanistan’s women. As his mind sifts through its memories, fears, and hallucinations, and the outlines of reality start to harden, he realizes that, if he is to escape the soldiers who wish to finish the job they started, he must leave everything he loves behind and find a way to get to Pakistan.
Rahimi uses his tight, spare prose to send the reader deep into the fractured mind and emotions of a country caught between religion and the political machinations of the world’s superpowers.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Atiq Rahimi was born in Kabul in 1962. He was seventeen years old when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. He fled to Pakistan during the war and was eventually granted political asylum in France in 1984. After the fall of the Taliban in 2002, Rahimi returned to Afghanistan, where he filmed an adaptation of his novella Earth and Ashes (Other Press). He has become renowned as a maker of documentary and feature films, as well as a writer. The film of Earth and Ashes was in the Official Selection at Cannes in 2004 and won several prizes. Since 2002 Rahimi has returned to Afghanistan a number of times to set up a Writers’ House in Kabul. His novel The Patience Stone (Other Press) won the Prix Goncourt in 2008.
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