Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Anchor Books
Pages: 257

Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Arab-Israeli surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv. As an admired and respected member of his community, he has carved a space for himself and his wife, Sihem, at the crossroads of two troubled societies. Jaafari’s world is abruptly shattered when Sihem is killed in a suicide bombing.

As evidence mounts that Sihem could have been responsible for the catastrophic bombing, Jaafari begins a tortured search for answers. Faced with the ultimate betrayal, he must find a way to reconcile his cherished memories of his wife with the growing realization that she may have had another life, one that was entirely removed from the comfortable, modern existence that they shared.

It is one of the most powerful and haunting stories I’ve ever read, and I loved every page. Khadra brilliantly paints the human costs of terrorism with sweeping, compassionate strokes. The characters, situations and emotions are real. The plot is consummately conceived.

This is a story of the protagonist turning his hate of what his wife (and the group that put her up to it) did into understanding, and then forgiveness.

I haven’t read a book in many years that showed me the human side of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict
the way this one did, nor of a story of so much compassion for both sides. It is a tale about finding understanding in a sea of hate, and letting that flower into forgiveness, and even love. 

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