The Swallows of Kabul

Adam Shatz writes: In The Swallows of Kabul, Khadra writes against the ultimate enemy: the Taliban. It’s a slender, didactic work, about a decent, civilised man, Mohsen Ramat, who, swept up by the seductive fury of the mob, takes part in the stoning of a prostitute. When ‘he sees a red stain blossom at the spot where his stone has struck her’ he experiences an ‘unfathomable joy’ – followed almost immediately by unbearable guilt. After he confesses what he has done to his wife, Zunaira, a brilliant, ravishing former magistrate confined to their home because she refuses to wear the burka, she spurns him in horror, setting in motion a predictably tragic chain of events.’

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