“For far too long, Afghan women have been faceless and voiceless. Until now. With The Patience Stone, Atiq Rahimi gives face and voice to one unforgettable woman–and, one could argue, offers her as a proxy for the grievances of millions…it is a rich read, part allegory, part a tale of retribution, part an exploration of honor, love, sex, marriage, war. It is without doubt an important and courageous book.” from the introduction by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
In Persian folklore, Syngue Sabour is the name of a magical black stone, a patience stone, which absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. It is believed that the day it explodes, after having received too much hardship and pain, will be the day of the Apocalypse. But here, the Syngue Sabour is not a stone but rather a man lying brain-dead with a bullet lodged in his neck. His wife is with him, sitting by his side. But she resents him for having sacrificed her to the war, for never being able to resist the call to arms, for wanting to be a hero, and in the end, after all was said and done, for being incapacitated in a small skirmish. Yet she cares, and she speaks to him. She even talks to him more and more, opening up her deepest desires, pains, and secrets. While in the streets rival factions clash and soldiers are looting and killing around her, she speaks of her life, never knowing if her husband really hears. And it is an extraordinary confession, without restraint, about sex and love and her anger against a man who never understood her, who mistreated her, who never showed her any respect or kindness. Her admission releases the weight of oppression of marital, social, and religious norms, and she leads her story up to the great secret that is unthinkable in a country such as Afghanistan. Winner of the Prix Goncourt, The Patience Stone captures with great courage and spare, poetic, prose the reality of everyday life for an intelligent woman under the oppressive weight of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
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Winner of France's prestigious Goncourt Prize for 2008, and set in modern-day Aghanistan, this explosive and moving short novel, with a shocking twist, takes a compelling literary look behind the veil, daring to confront taboos of female oppression and sexuality. A young woman sits at her husband's bedside, twisting her worry beads, reciting prayers. Shot in the neck by a fellow soldier, he is in a coma. The passage of time is measured by the sound of his breathing, the slow drip that keeps him alive and the calls to prayer in the streets outside. Consumed by her vigil and his medical care, the woman is alone and desperate for any sign of life from her comatose husband. As her mind appears to unravel, so it becomes intensely clear-sighted. Now is her chance -- her first ever -- to speak without being censored. Empowered by her husband's silence, she steps out of the shadows and begins her confessional...Soldiers raid the flat. In the room she acts out her fantasies and her revenge. But always she comes back to the bedside, to pour out her love and her hate and her sexual desires, as though to a sang-e-sabur -- the black patience stone of Persian mythology. Finally, spurred to new heights of daring, she spills out her most explosive secret.About the Author:
Atiq Rahimi was born in Afghanistan in 1962, but fled to France in 1984. There he has become renowned as a maker of documentary and feature films, and as a writer. The film of his novel Earth and Ashes was in the Official Selection at Cannes in 2004 and won a number of prizes. He is currently adapting another of his novels, A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fear, for the screen. Since 2001 Rahimi has returned to Afghanistan to set up a Writers’ House in Kabul and to offer support and training to young Afghan writers and filmmakers. He lives in Paris.
Polly McLean is a freelance translator based in Oxford, England. Previous translations include titles by Catherine Deneuve and Sylvia Kristel (star of the Emmanuelle films) as well as the award-winning Secret by Philippe Grimbert
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