In Persian folklore, Syngue Sabour is the name of a magical black stone, a patience stone, that 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. In fact, she begins to speak 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 Stonecaptures 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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"The extremely wretched existence of being an Afghanistan woman along with a story exposing the sick and rotten life that Afghan men have created for everyone in that damned country is revealed by this surprising high art novella. All of the action occurs in a single room so this could easily be turned into a play. It is a frank, honest monologue which reveals a country that hides it's barnyard mentality and psychopathic cruelty behind twisted interpretations of an already illogical collection of religious instructions. As peculiar as the Torah, the Bible and the Koran can read to those who bother to study them, what the Afghans have done with transforming an eighth century book of third-hand, poorly translated stories of Babylonian folk tales and strange body function rituals that HAD to be created by someone with autism or obsessive-compulsive disorder is criminal. It is amazing such a sick and maimed society is often discussed as if in the interests of fairness we must pretend it is sane and legitimate, with normal governing principles grounding the daily lives of all the followers of extreme Islam. For God's sake, the average life expectancy there is around 40, women are basically treated like they are breeding dogs, children as disposable slaves and men are cowering mouth breathers. Perhaps in two decades Afghans will have returned to living in caves trying go remember how to make a fire. No one wants to say out loud how insane this country is. Everyone knows it, the same way we all knew how sick Cambodia, North Korea, Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, Idi Amin' s Uganda, and the current Somalia, is. It is similar to being respectful of a rabies infected bat attacking you. If only people would discuss more often and openly how much opium has infiltrated all aspects of Afghan society and by promoting the demonizing of women the men have turned to 'boy dancers' which is creating a future generation of sick, damaged men. The worst part is how Pakistan and Iran are cynically and malignantly 'helping' Afghanistan turn their people into Neanderthal primitives to keep their own populations distracted while using Afghans as political catspaws, and India and China quietly steal every valuable mineral resource Afghanistan possesses while screaming that their intervention is stopping the USA from doing so. It's all so disgusting. And hopeless. In my opinion, it has become an out of control forest fire that will burn until all of the land is destroyed. Since no one can help, we should leave them alone to their devolution (with nothing of value left) and keep books like this around as cautionary tales."
aPriL (4 out of 5 stars)