Translated from the French by John Cullen
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 257 pp., $18.95
I first read about "The Attack" on Moorish Girl's blog. She's a writer and journalist and does a great job of showcasing books and authors from the Middle East and Africa. I always look forward to her every post.
Yasmina Khadra is a pen name for Muhammed Moulessehoul, an ex-soldier from the Algerian army, turned writer. Some of you might remember his first book, an excellent one, titled "The Swallows in Kabul" about the war in Afghanistan.
Here's a brief review of his outstanding new book, "The Attack":
Amin Jawaari is of Arab extraction, but a naturalized Israeli citizen (there are a lot of Israelis of Arab descent - even the three sisters of the current Hamas party leader are Israeli citizens). Amin Jawaari is a very successful surgeon in a hospital in Tel Aviv; he and his wife Sihem (also of Arab descent) are well-respected in the community and live the good life. With his job being all-consuming Amin tends to stay away from politics, but all that changes when one day there is a huge explosion outside his hospital. Apparently a female suicide bomber with explosives strapped to her body entered a fast-food restaurant and detonated the bomb she was carrying leaving at least 19 dead, including 11 schoolchildren celebrating a classmate's birthday. Later in the evening Dr. Jawaari finds out that his wife's body was among the dead, not just that, the injuries on her body seemed consistent with those of a suicide bomber...
Ofcourse, this shocking news changes his life completely. He never realized his lovely and intelligent wife felt this sympathetic to The Cause. He couldn't believe that he knew so little about someone he loved so much!
He gives up his job at the hospital and goes in search of why anyone, but his wife in particular, would be motivated to carry out a suicide attack. Being a non-practising Muslim himself it is very hard for him to understand what drives radicalism. He travels to Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jenin and along the way, after meeting a whole cast of interesting characters, he begins to learn something about how not having a land to call your own is humiliating and how humiliation can lead to a lack of self-esteem, which in turn leads to hate. "...there is no worse cataclysm than humiliation; it's an evil beyond measure". Amin never really comes up with a concrete reason why so many young men and women are prepared to become suicide bombers, but one can deduce that since they don't feel worthy in life, they try to aim for a worthy end(martyrdom).
The author has done an excellent job of staying neutral but at the same time, shedding light on the Israel-Palestininan cause, and even if one is not interested in politics, I would beseech you to read it just to revel in the language, the imagery and the masterful way Yasmina Khadra can tell a story.
Read a review here