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  • A Curse on Dostoevsky
  • Written by Atiq Rahimi
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781590515471
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  • A Curse on Dostoevsky
  • Written by Atiq Rahimi
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9781590515488
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A Curse on Dostoevsky

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Written by Atiq RahimiAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Atiq Rahimi

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On Sale: March 04, 2014
Pages: | ISBN: 978-1-59051-548-8
Published by : Other Press Other Press
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Reading Dostoevsky in Afghanistan becomes “crime without punishment”

Rassoul remembers reading Crime and Punishment as a student of Russian literature in Leningrad, so when, with axe in hand, he kills the wealthy old lady who prostitutes his beloved Sophia, he thinks twice before taking her money or killing the woman whose voice he hears from another room. He wishes only to expiate his crime and be rightfully punished. Out of principle, he gives himself up to the police. But his country, after years of civil war, has fallen into chaos. In Kabul there is only violence, absurdity, and deafness, and Rassoul’s desperate attempt to be heard turns into a farce.

This is a novel that not only flirts with literature but also ponders the roles of sin, guilt, and redemption in the Muslim world. At once a nostalgic ode to the magic of Persian tales and a satire on the dire reality of now, A Curse on Dostoevsky also portrays the resilience and wit of Afghani women, an aspect of his culture that Rahimi never forgets.

Excerpt

The moment Rassoul lifts the axe to bring it down on the old woman’s head, he thinks of Crime and Punishment. He is thunderstruck. His arms shake; his legs tremble. And the axe slips from his hands. It splits open the old woman’s head, and sinks into her skull. She collapses without a sound on the red and black rug. Her apple-blossom patterned headscarf floats in the air before landing on her fat, flabby body. She convulses. Another breath, perhaps two. Her staring eyes fix on Rassoul standing in the middle of the room, not breathing, whiter than a corpse. His patou falls from his bony shoulders. His terrified gaze is lost in the pool of blood, blood that streams from the old woman’s skull, merges with the red of the rug obscuring its black pattern, then trickles toward the woman’s fleshy hand, which still grips a wad of notes. The money will be bloodstained.

Move, Rassoul, move!

Total inertia.

Rassoul?

What’s the matter with him? What is he thinking about? Crime and Punishment. That’s right—Raskolnikov, and what became of him.

But didn’t he think of that before, when he was planning the crime?

Apparently not.

Or perhaps it was that story, buried deep within, which incited him to murder.

Or perhaps…Or perhaps…what? Is this really the time to consider it? Now that he’s killed the old woman, he must take her money and jewels, and run.

Run!

He doesn’t move. He just stands there. Rooted to the spot, like a tree. A dead tree, planted in the flagstones of the house. Still staring at the trickle of blood that has almost reached the woman’s hand.
Praise

Praise

"A darkly comic meditation on life in a lawless land…In restrained prose, Rahimi explores both the personal and the political; it’s both in dialogue with a classic and is daringly outspoken." —Publishers Weekly

"In a rare imaginative feat, Rahimi renews many of Dostoevsky’s original psychological insights and opens piercing new ones.  Unforgettable." —Booklist (Starred) Review

"Rahimi does a masterful job both in echoing Dostoevsky and in updating the moral complexities his protagonist both creates and faces." —Kirkus

Rahimi turns his attention to Crime and Punishment and juxtaposes literature against the Muslim world in Kabul, the themes of civil war, chaos, sin, guilt and redemption for Afghani women again being the theme. ‘Crime without punishment?’” —Electric Literature

“Atiq Rahimi brilliantly re-imagines Crime and Punishment and, in a daring feat of creative panache, transplants Dostoevsky’s classic morality tale to modern-day Afghanistan. This is easily Rahimi’s most imaginative and complex work yet, and should cement his reputation as a writer of great and unique vision.” —Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

 “Atiq Rahimi, like the great story tellers of Afghanistan, is a master of using a small moment to tell the sweeping story of the pain and loss of war.  In A Curse on Dostoevsky he yet again imprints images in the memory, as he captures both the unspeakable absurdity of the Afghan civil war and the ingenious ways Afghans have found to move beyond it.” —Qais Akbar Omar, author of A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story

A Curse on Dostoevsky is a dark window into a troubled land, and the imprints that land leaves on an individual soul. For that point alone, it is worth reading.” –The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Here, Atiq Rahimi sings an incandescent, raging story, which dissects, in a highly sensitive way, the chaos of his homeland and the contradictions of his people.” —L’Express

“In the light of the Russian writer, [Rahimi] describes his country so that we may understand it like we never have before. His latest novel isn’t only breathless, beautiful, and strong, it is indispensable…He dared—and succeeded.” —Le Point


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