November 4, 2021
The beautiful preface written by Rahimi for this special edition that holds three of his most well-known novels already made me want to stand up and applaud.
“By writing, I allowed myself to grieve, renouncing revenge; by writing I set sail into history, denouncing terror.”
Atiq Rahimi might be more renowned as a filmmaker, having won awards as a director at Cannes and other film festivals; but he is hands down the best Afghan writer I have read so far. For his literary work, he has been awarded the Prix Goncourt.
Earth and Ashes
“Have the Russians come and taken away everyone’s voice? What do they do with all the voices? Why did you let them take away your voice?”
These lines do not pierce the heart so much until you realize that they are spoken by a young child who was made deaf by the bombings, and he wonders where all the voices have gone.
A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear
There is an unbelievable sustained tension from beginning to end, and it is yet another evidence of the unique and gripping way Rahimi unravels a story.
The Patience Stone
I am almost a hundred percent sure that Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun was an inspiration. I have listed the many reasons why in my book journal, but I will spare people the detailed geeking out unless asked. Although it has stark similarities, Rahimi turns his whole piece into something entirely different — a cry about womanhood imprisoned in such a context, and a cry for womanhood in such a culture. In fact, it is written in memory of Nadia Anjuman, an Afghan poet savagely murdered by her husband. It is a work for which Afghans accused Rahimi of treason; but it is a homage to women, the victims of what he describes as a “cult of fear”.
All three, tragedies. All three, realities. But all three, transmuted into great art.
This book makes tangible a power that only the interdependence of life and art can yield.