Friday, February 20, 2009

My latest crush : Yasmina Khadra

Thanks to blogging friend Cuban in London, I’ve spent the last two days in the fascinating company of Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra reading two of his short novels Les hirondelles de Kaboul (The Swallows of Kabul) and L’Attentat (The Attack).


The novelist who is actually a man - his real name is Mohammed Moulessehoul – was born in Algerian Sahara. At the age of 9, his father sent him to a military school to become an officer. At the age of 18, he wrote his first book of short stories Houria which was published 11 years later. In 2000, he quits the army after 36 years of services to dedicate himself entirely to literature. After having lived a short period of time in Mexico, he settled in Aix-en-Provence in France with his wife and his three children.

Moulessehoul first chose to write under his wife's first names (meaning "green jasmin") for clandestinity reasons. But he also wanted to express his profound admiration towards Algerian women, their courage and undying hope.


The Swallows of Kabul (2002) tells about the destiny of two men and two women struggling to find a sense of dignity under the implacable reign of the Talibans in Afghanistan. Amidst the fury and violence of public executions, the maddening sermons against the Occidental world, Yasmina Khadra chooses to speak about love and weaves a poignant story of sacrifice and abnegation.
Mohsen who dreamt of becoming a diplomat sees his hopes shattered. One morning, as he watches a public lapidating, he throws a couple of stones at the victim. Going back home, he cannot face the horror of his act, doesn't recognize himself anymore and confides in his beautiful wife Zunaira, whom he considers as his last sun and hope.....
I will not reveal more and let you discover this beautiful tale which is more a song of surviving hope.


The Attack (2005) takes place in Tel Aviv. Dr Amine who is Israeli of Arabic origin works as a surgeon. We see him taking care of the victims of a bomb attack which happened in a restaurant. Supposedly the kamikaze was a woman concealing a bomb under pregnancy clothes. At the end of the day, Amine goes back to his house to rest but is suddenly awakened in the middle of the night by the police. A nightmare awaits him as the police reveals him that the kamikaze was his wife.....

Cuban's review of the book was so enticing and enthusiastic, I just had to read it...


I was totally enthralled by the beautifully metaphorical style of Yasmina Khadra. I read both texts in the original version in French (to the question of why Khadra decided to write in French rather than in Arabic, he declared that he found a certain "universality, rigor and splendor" in the French language). The more I was reading the more I was amazed by the constant flow of poetical images even when describing the cruel reality of death, destruction and violence. Khadra’s mother, born a nomad in a Sahara tribe was a story teller and undoubtedly Khadra inherited this gift, only that he put his words in writing.

On the same topic, (the israelo-palestinian conflict) if you still haven't seen it, may I recommend you the movie Paradise Now (2005), which I saw a few months ago and would actually love to watch again. This movie by Dutch-Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad tells about two friends, living in Naplouse, who have been elected to commit a double suicide attack in Tel Aviv. But things go wrong and the two young men will be set apart. While they both try to find one other, they both experience doubt and lack of conviction. And the only remaining question is : is violence a solution to freedom ?


Tell me what you will be reading or watching this week end.....
Enjoy it !

22 comments:

dakota bear said...

Hello Lala

I'm reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the USA.

Christina said...

Oh, I must look into these books. So many good ones going on my list.

xxoo

Cynthia said...

What an interesting question...and a couple of significant finds...thanks, Lala Ema!<3

Yoli said...

My country man always has the best book suggestions doesn't he?

Sara said...

These kinds of stories are close to my heart....I wonder if he's been translated into English...I will go looking and find out.

Niki said...

They sound great - I'll have to track them down!

Indyeah said...

Thanks for introducing me to this new author lala!its always a pleasure to add some new books to the reading list.And the way you have described the books is indeed intriguing....havent read books in a while...:((..have to get back into the habit..

enjoy the weekend!:))
love
Indyeah

Khaled KEM said...

Thanks Lala for introducing me Yasmina Khadra. I did not read anything to him yet and I will try to explore his work. The only thing that I would like to say and of course I will sound completely biased that the Arabic language is a very rich one and it is easier to have a wide range of choices in Arabic than the Latin languages.
As for my PhD I do it in science (Microbiology).

Have a great week-end

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Hi LaLa -
My list just keeps growning! I'll be catching up with my New Yorker's this weekend and of course watching the Oscars! Have fun.
Catherine

Gillian said...

These recommendations sound intriguing. I love the sound of both, I'll look for them,in English of course.
:)
This weekend I'm watching Vicki Christina Barcelona and The House of Sand, (a Brazilian subtitled movie.)
Yay!
xo
Enjoy the rest of your weekend Lala...xo!

Jojo said...

Both of these sound wonderful. I just started Lipsick Jihad but if these come in English I will add them to my shopping cart. Thanks for the recommendations!

Elizabeth said...

Dea Lala
These sound absolutely fascinating.
I'm afraid I'm reading an old fashioned English book "Miss Buncle's BooK" from Persephone books in London.
Hope you are wel? and your family in Africa?

Cynthia said...

Lala Ema, I must read "The Swallows of Kabul" as it sounds extreemly interesting! I came back over to your castle because I posted a cute picture of my Mr. D'Arcy and Miss Junie that I would like you to see. This weekend I read "At a Journal Workshop" (Ira Progroff; "Writing as a Way of Healing" (Louise DeSalvo); and, "Jamaica Kincaid; Writing Memory; Writing Back to the Mother" (Brooks Bouson). (You asked!) Selected chapters. I did an exercise writing to my muse which I posted...difficult...and then I had to post my lovely animal pics...to make myself happy again. I hope you come by for a little peek! <3

Anairam said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I will try to find some of his books.(PS I saw Paradise Now two years ago and thought it was excellent ...)

paris parfait said...

I have read both these books - aren't they intriguing??!!

A Cuban In London said...

Many thanks, my castle, for your lovely post. I have included 'The Swallows of Kabul' in my books' wishlist.

Greetings from London.

Vintage+Chic said...

Hola Lala, muchísimas gracias por tu recomendación pero ¿podrías decirme dónde has encontrado los libros en francés o de qué editorial son? gracias!

Relyn said...

I just finished rereading Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas and have begun Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear.

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