Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Attack, Yasmina Khadra

Being translated into English and published in May, Khadra's latest novel has been nominated for the prestigious French award: the Prix Goncourt; and has even been optioned by Focus Features for film rights. Which is not surprising in the least. The plot alone is film-worthy these days. And Focus is the best film company to approach the movie. However, trying to remain as non-judgmental politcally and religiously as the writer will likely be difficult for a movie version.

The main character, Dr. Amin Jaafari, sees his wife off to visit family. The day she is due to return there is a suicide bombing at a restaurant and it appears his wife was the martyr. While the writing is simplistic with the occasional "big word" thrown in for good measure, the doctor's desire to unearth why his wife would do such a thing when there were no hints or signs that he saw, is a desire that is felt strongly by the reader. I'm not sure if the writing is a result of the translation alone or if Khadra is simply a simple writer. Either way, it is almost incongruous to have such easy reading mixed up with such a complex story and situation. Yet Khadra manages to give a clear account of what appears to the West as an unimaginable atrocity and to what the Middle East faces as a near-daily occurrence. While the reader doesn't find empathy for the "terrorists", the author paints a pitcure of them that puts one more in touch with the realities of these choices. You are given a clearer idea of why someone might make such a seemingly far-fetched decision. And this clarity comes through the eyes of a character who also struggles with the "why" of it all.

While not overly-impressed by this book, I loved that it was easy to get through, easy to access the greater questions of why there is such conflict and turmoil; to illustrate how complicated the Middle East conflicts really are. Westerners will never truly grasp the emotional urgency that drives the people we term "terrorists", people who live lives and dream dreams and aspire to being greater than themselves: concepts that are not unclear to Americans, regardless of religious or cultural background. And this is the hardest part of all to accept. That those who are encouraging and participating in terrible acts that destroy the lives of innocent people...they are not that dissimilar to ourselves.

The Attack asks the question: "But does that make it right?" Read and answer the question for yourself.

1 comment:

Lotus Reads said...

I'm reading this now, so, ofcourse, I was so excited to find that you had reviewed it. I have deliberately refrained from reading the entire post, I will return once I finish this book!