"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.
Rahimi (Earth and Ashes) won the 2008 Prix Goncourt for this brief, melodramatic novel set amid factional violence "somewhere in Afghanistan or elsewhere." It follows the circumscribed movements of a Muslim woman largely confined to the house where she nurses her comatose husband, who's been shot by a fellow jihadist. A humorless, inflammatory mullah pays the woman unwelcome visits, and sexually menacing soldiers break into her house. Though such events generate tension and drama, the novel's cultural and historical milieu lacks specificity, and Rahimi may have erred in sketching the story's political context vaguely. For some readers, his intimate attention to objects and spaces may compensate for the grating confessional tenor that develops later, when the narrator divulges damning secrets to her husband's unresponsive body and fulfilling the book's premise a little too obviously by referring to him as her "patience stone." McLean's translation is faultless, but the narrator's reminiscences feel stilted; the patience-stone conceit borders on gimmickry; and incidents of a violent or sexual nature seem overdetermined. (Jan.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Not what I expected.
Posted September 12, 2010 by P. Roberts , WaldorfI did not enjoy this book. The ending was horrible; does that mean another continuing book. If your expecting this to read similar to "A Thousand Splendid Sons" or the "Kite Runner". don't. Books both written from the perspective of the Afghan Life but this book was certainly not as exciting.
January 18, 2010
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Excerpt from The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi
The room is bare. Bare of decoration. Except on the wall between the two windows, where someone has hung a small khanjar and, above the khanjar, a photo, of a man with a moustache. He is perhaps thirty years old. Curly hair. Square face, bracketed by a pair of neatly tended sideburns. His black eyes shine. They are small, separated by a hawklike nose. The man is not laughing, and yet seems as if he's holding back a laugh. This gives him a strange expression, that of a man inwardly mocking those who look at him. The photo is in black and white, hand-colored in drab tones. Facing this photo, at the foot of a wall, the same man-older now-is lying on a red mattress on the floor. He has a beard. Pepper and salt. He is thinner. Too thin. Nothing but skin and bones. Pale.Wrinkled. His nose more hawklike than ever. He still isn't laughing, and still looks strangely mocking. His mouth is half-open. His eyes, even smaller now, have retreated into their sockets. His gaze is fixed on the ceiling, on the exposed, blackened, rotting beams. His arms lie passive along his sides. Beneath the translucent skin, his veins like exhausted worms twine around the jutting bones of his body. On his left wrist he wears a wind-up watch, and on the ring finger a gold wedding band. A catheter drips clear liquid into the crook of his arm from a plastic pouch attached to the wall just above his head. The rest of his body is covered
by a long blue shirt, embroidered at collar and cuffs. His legs, stiff as two stakes, are buried under a white sheet. A dirty sheet. A hand, a woman's hand, is resting on his chest, over his heart, moving up and down in time with his breath. The woman is seated. Legs pulled up and into her chest. Head bundled between her knees. Her dark hair-very dark, and long-flows over her slumped shoulders, echoing the regular movement of her arm.