Adventures in Reading

Revisited: The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
June 19, 2008, 9:51 am
Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: , , , ,

The Swallows of Kabul is an interesting story of the entanglement of the lives of two couples in Kabul. The first three-fourths of the book follows the two husbands closely as they coincidentally run into each other but never meet (somewhat like Ulysses). Kabul is impoverished and the story takes place during Taliban rule and after the war with the Russians. The characters struggle with life under Taliban run Kabul, and the question of existence develops into a poignant theme. The last fourth of the book moves to target the wives more and here the story became very predictable and I quickly began to lose interest. Khadra does have a rather peculiar writing style (or perhaps a result of the translation) where I found myself often feeling I was reading a play rather than a novel.

This is really a book I don’t remember anything about, which is one of those crazy growing up things because I always swore I would never forget what I had read. (Or perhaps Swallows of Kabul simply didn’t give me that much of a lasting impression?) I believe I read this last summer during the Middle Eastern book craze that was sweeping the bookstore. It wasn’t a bad read. I remember that it was short with a nice cover.

Fat Girl & City of Widows

Some of my readers familiar with me from former blogging escapades may be a bit shocked that when I checked out Dewey‘s latest Weekly Geeks blog post I found myself stumped. Pick a political or social issue of interest and throw out some books related to it. As someone who has always considered myself quite politically active and aware, I was embarrassed with myself for lack of ideas!

I always believed that at a certain age all of my misgivings and poor attitudes directed at my body would disappear. Once all of that high school awkwardness melted away and if nothing else I would finally at the very least be comfortable with myself. How wrong I was. Judith Moore’s Fat Girl is her memoir growing up fat in a world that not only berated her but also taught her to be unhappy with herself. Moore does not extend solutions and Fat Girl is a wry and fierce commentary that at least made me feel less alone.

City of Widows by Haifa Zangana is a refreshing account of the historical and current experience of women in Iraq. Coming out in the midst of memoir after memoir exploring women’s experiences in the Middle East and with Muslim, City of Widows provided a refreshing exploration of the various women rights oriented groups that have existed throughout Iraq. Zangana strongly criticizes what current occupation has cost the hard fought successes of these groups.