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The Attack    by Yasmina Khadra order for
by Yasmina Khadra
Order:  USA  Can
Nan A. Talese, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

These days, terrorism appears often in our vocabulary, but we normally use the word in connection with events happening to other people in other places. And what never gets explained very well is why the act is committed. In this novel (translated by John Cullen), a husband must face up to the fact that his beloved wife was a terrorist. Since he is a doctor and she killed lots of people, including children, as well as herself, he is driven to understand how this could happen.

Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Arab living in present-day Israel. He has known intolerance from the beginning and has tried, successfully it seems, to rise above it. This action by his wife, then, comes as a complete surprise. As he seeks the reasons she could do this, especially without his having an inkling about it, he is confronted with the hatred and zealotry that runs deep among his countrymen and family. He travels to his home and, while welcomed by a family he has not seen in many years, his visit brings tragedy to all.

Yasmina Khadra is the nom de plume of a former Algerian army officer, Mohammed Moulessehoul. In one of his previous novels, The Swallows of Kabul, the author depicted the hopelessness of life in Afghanistan. There, the battles were not only men against men but also men against nature. In The Attack, the tragedy is that mankind ignores the hurts of its own. This book painfully shows that hate and death beget nothing but hate and death. Only when it is acknowledged that 'every Jew in Palestine is a bit of an Arab, and no Arab in Israel can deny that he's a little Jewish' will a solution to the 'hate between relatives' begin to be found. This author's powerful messages deserve a wide audience.

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