Monday, September 3, 2007


During a particularly hot summer in Taliban-ridden Kabul, two marriages are irrevocably changed by the public stoning of a prostitute.

This book was published to enormous critical acclaim--every major review venue is quoted on the cover. This just further cements my disrespect for book reviewers--I have no idea who the heck they were all pandering to. This book is just insufferable--unoriginal plot that effortlessly promotes the patriarchy while pretending to criticize it, loose purple prose, unbelievable and unsympathetic characters. The author, an Algerian man (it's a pen name), simply capitalizes on all the interest in Afghanistan generated by THE KITE RUNNER and has created a flimsy little shadow puppet show to sell on those grounds, but I am utterly unconvinced that he has ever seen Kabul or has any idea what it's like--there are no place descriptions, although the characters do spend a lot of time walking around aimlessly outside so he's wasted a built-in vehicle for bringing the city to life.

Very, very unimpressed. Found myself rushing through the extremely unimpressive ending just to get it over with faster.


homeinkabul said...

Thanks for the review, I'm crossing it off my list now. :)

Alan said...

I am glad that I read your comments; I will not go for "Swallows" as I originally intended. Did you, by chance, read "Attack"?

moonrat said...

I haven't read Attack--you know, I was pleasantly surprised to read your review. I know his stuff gets well-reviewed, although I can't help but feel that SWALLOWS OF KABUL was a bit of a fictional cop-out: there was nothing to place it distinctly in Kabul, and it borrowed heavily from all the conventions of mainstream Afghanistan-related horrorshow without offering any insight or revelation.

After reading your review of Attack, though, Alan, I want to give it a shot... maybe I picked the wrong book of his to start with.