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The Patience Stone [Hardcover]

Atiq Rahimi , Khaled Hosseini , Polly McLean
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 19 2010
“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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Review

“In spare, unflinching prose, Atiq Rahimi gives us Afghanistan’s terrible legacy in the story of one woman’s suffering. Anyone seeking to understand why Afghanistan is difficult and what decades of violence have done to its people should read this book. Rahimi is a superb guide to a hard and complex land.”—Ambassador Ryan Crocker, former U.S. Envoy to Afghanistan, Ambassador to Pakistan, and Ambassador to Iraq

The Patience Stone is perfectly written: spare, close to the bone, sometimes bloody, with a constant echo, like a single mistake that repeats itself over and over and over.”—Los Angeles Times

“This story from an Afghan-born author is a powerful one, giving voice to the historically downtrodden Afghan woman…truly an expansive work of literature.”—New York Post

“[A] clever novel…readers get a glimpse of daily life in a country terrorized by conflict and religious fundamentalism. Rahimi paints this picture with nuance and subtlety…[His] sparse prose complements his simple yet powerful storytelling prowess. This unique story is both enthralling and disturbing.”—San Francisco Chronicle

"Rahimi's lyric prose is simple and poetic, and McLean's translation is superb. With an introduction by Khaled Hosseini, this Prix Goncourt-winning book should have a profound impact on the literature of Afghanistan for its brave portrayal of, among other things, an Afghan woman as a sexual being."Library Journal

“A slender, devastating exploration of one woman’s tormented inner life, which won the 2008 Prix Goncourt...The novel, asserts [Khaled] Hosseini in his glowing introduction, finally gives a complex, nuanced, and savage voice to the grievances of millions.”—Words Without Borders

"In this remarkable book Atiq Rahimi explores ways through which personal and political oppression can be resisted through acts of self-revelation. He reveals to us the violence we are capable of imposing upon ourselves and others both in our personal as well as political and social relations. In a manner all the more effective because of his stark and compact style, Rahimi recreates for us the texture of such violence, its almost intimate brutality as well as its fragility. Just as remarkable is the fact that although the story happens within the context of a particular time and place, the emotions it evokes and relationships it creates have universal implications and could happen to any of us under similar conditions. The Patience Stone is relevant to us exactly because as Rahimi says it takes place ‘Somewhere in Afghanistan or elsewhere.’"Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and Things I’ve Been Silent About

"With a veiled face and stolen words, a woman keeps silent about her forbidden pain in an Afghanistan marred by men’s foolishness. But when she rediscovers her voice, she overcomes the chaos. Atiq Rahimi tells the story of this woman’s heartbreaking lamentation to awaken our consciences."—Yasmina Khadra, author of The Swallows of Kabul

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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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars VERY DISAPPOINTING! Aug. 16 2012
Format:Hardcover
I ordered and read this novella based on the two previous ratings! I was VERY DISAPPOINTED!!! I have read several books on the struggles of Afghanistan and this book was horrible! There was little progression in the reader's understanding of the plight of the women in this culture, or even the hardships of this war-torn country. This book was vulgar, utter complete nonsense. DO NOT waste your time or your $ on this read. It is not worth it!!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars great read March 19 2014
By ginger
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Loved the book...certainly gives insight to how women are treated in a country where women are almost considered non persons.
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4.0 out of 5 stars For those interested in cultural differences April 9 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Patience Stone is a story told in the voice of an Aghan woman while she tends to her husband, a brain-dead man with a bullet lodged in his neck. “I’m going to tell you everything, my sang-e saboor. Everything. Until I set myself free from my pain, and my suffering,” she says. As she sits by his side, day by day, she reveals her deepest secrets, giving the reader an insight into an oppressive culture that has no respect for women. In his introduction, Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, writes, “Rahimi’s nameless heroine is a conduit, a living vessel for the grievances of millions of women like her, women who have been objectified, marginalized, scorned, beaten, ridiculed, silenced. In The Patience Stone, they have their say at last” (p. xii). This book is written in an unusual way--almost stream of consciousness. It's certainly not an uplifting book, but an interesting read for those who are interested in equity and inclusion issues around the world, and in learning about different cultures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant! April 5 2010
Format:Hardcover
A brilliant novel. Unlike anything I have ever read - the style is fascinating. Completely eye-opening and heart wrenching. Definitely one of my top ten books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Somewhere in Afghanistan or elsewhere" March 6 2010
By Friederike Knabe TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This simple epigram sets the stage for this very unusual and powerful story: it is both personal, even intimate, and wide-reaching in substance and relevance. At the centre of all comings and goings is one room where a woman attends to her wounded husband. A photo of him on the wall identifies him as a combatant for one of the fighting factions in an ongoing war. The sounds of gunfire, of tanks near-by smashing house walls and of men shouting -far or close by - regularly break into the room's silence where the woman is also deep in thought and prayer. The woman goes about her nursing routines, leaves the room to speak to her young daughters somewhere down the passage, comes back, refreshes the feeding tube, washes her husband's motionless body and, settling back beside him, continues counting her prayer beads while reciting one of the ninety-nine names of God. If it were not for his quiet regular breathing, one would think the man had died already...

In a language that is at the same time simple, spare and compressed, yet often poetic, Rahimi evokes the atmosphere in the room that is both calm and serene and, nonetheless, held in suspense by tensions lingering below the surface. As readers we feel like intimate observers of a domestic tragedy, yet at the same time, through the special lens that the room provides we can perceive the desolation and brutality of the outside world. Slowly, in sensitively conveyed step, the reader learns to understand the hard life of the woman, her family and background and also the intricacies of a society torn apart by tradition and power struggles. The woman opens her heart, expressing her deepest held thoughts to her man who cannot answer but might well hear her.
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