Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

An Afghani wife tends to her comatose husband in an unnamed city devastated by the war. After finding a relative with whom to leave her two small daughters, she returns to her husband and continues to tend him, dripping sugar water into his mouth just as surely as she drips the story of herself and her secrets into his ears. Using the unconscious body of her husband to unburden herself as to the patience stone of legend, she tells a tale of powerlessness and woman's lot in life. She tells the truths that she would never have dared tell her jihadist husband had he been alert; she asks for forgiveness and explains necessity.

But this short and affecting tale is not just the wife's recollections and history but a record of her pain and degradations, one that must be told to another living being. The story itself is fairly simplistic and the method of telling her tale comes off as a bit mechanical. Perhaps this distance is a deadened way of relaying the numbness that horror bestows on victims. But in this case, it also serves to keep the reader from making much of an emotional connection with the wife of the story. The lack of empathy doesn't help in the end when the tale takes an unfortunate turn I rather expected from early on. Verging on melodramatic, there are also several plot points that I found completely unbelievable given the nature of the main character and while these plot points might in fact have been intended symbolically, the fact that they actually occur in the novella lessened the impact of the book over all. Many, many people disagree with my take on this one and despite my reservations, it is a book likely to inspire good discussions amongst readers. Those interested in the Middle East and the effect the war is having on plain folk, especially regular women, will find an arresting example here.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame you didn't enjoy it, as from the synopsis it does sound like it would be a very good read.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts