Amin Jaafari, an Israeli-Arab, lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and is leading a happy and content life as a successful surgeon in a hospital. A suicide attack in the nearby Cafe, opens this book, as his hospital and colleagues prepare themselves to save the victims. After an eventful day and trying to get some sleep, Amin is woken by a telephone call by his friend Navid, a detective asking him to come over to the Hospital at once. Little did he know that the devastating explosion, is going to change his life forever. One of the victims, is suspected to be his wife, who had gone to her grand mother's place and expected to return the same day. Worse still, is that they suspect her to be the suicide bomber behind this gruesome attack.
He goes through the rigorous interrogation by the authorities on his wife's involvement and his knowledge about the same and on release confronted by the locals as a traitor. But, these are not the real concern to him. He refuses to believe his wife's involvement and maintain that this is a mistake and she was only a victim. His quest to know the truth about the event in order to prove himself that his wife is innocent, takes him through the painful journey. Amin, confronts the Imams, the commanders, and his relatives to unveil the truth tracing the path of his wife. Instead of relieving from the stress and despair, that envelop him, he gets further dragged into the turmoil, until the point of no return. He does not get any help from the imam , the commander-in chief and multiple leaders he talks to as all of them tell him that they were persuading her against such an attempt. So, who has done the damage , is it the cousin Abdel ? Is it her early life and upbringing, or is it in their blood for generations ? The author does not give the answers. This journey become a personal pilgrimage to Amin, as he goes through the learning.
"Your wife died for your redemption", says the militant leader to Amin. "There are only two extremes moments in human madness, the instance when you become aware of your own impotence and the instance when you become aware of the vulnerability of others. Its the question of accepting one's madness, doctor, or suffering it.". And for them "there is no happiness without dignity, and no dream is possible without freedom".
The difference between the thinking is simple, For him paradise is at the end of a man's life; for me, it's at tips of of your fingers.
This book is very sensitive and have to deal with a subject which is under international discussion. Though it does not tells you any thing new or what we does not know , he is succeed in telling us a story from the human point. This is not a book on terrorism as the author tells in one of the interview " but everywhere you retain only terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. My novels do not speak about terrorism; they talk of human brittleness, anger, humiliation, the fears, sometimes the hopes; and of this burning and fatuous actuality which spoils our life".
A very well written book by this Algerian writer, who writes under a pseudo name Yasmina Khadra ( real name is Mohammed Moulessehoul ) whose other novels also deal on the same subjects , swallows of Kabul, In the name of God , The sirens of Baghdad. A contemporary fiction, but does not demand a second read. More reviews here..
Written by : Yasmina Khadra ( Algeria )
Translated from French by John Cullen
PS: The real bastard isn't the man who doesn't know his father; it is the man who doesn't know his tradition.