Wednesday, April 13, 2011

REVIEW: A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, by Atiq Rahimi

A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, by Atiq Rahimi. Published 2011 by Other Press.Translated from Dari.

Filmmaker, teacher and activist, Atiq Rahimi has made his name in the literary world with short, surreal novels about people struggling to survive in his shattered native country of Afghanistan, and his latest, A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, is sure to please his many fans.

His first book to be released by Other Press, The Patience Stone, is the revolutionary story of a woman left alone with her dying husband; it won the Prix Goncourt and established Rahimi as someone to watch. The next book, Earth and Ashes, follows a father searching for his son. This latest novel tells the story of Farhad, a young man trying to escape Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and resist the lure of forbidden love. It's probably my favorite of his books, and I loved all of them.

The reason I like Thousand Rooms the most is that it has the clearest and most linear plot and lots of characters. Rahimi's books are like gorgeous prose-poems, seductive and absorbing and lush, but sometimes it's easy to lose track of what's actually happening. Often, he focuses on a sole protagonist cut off from society in some way, and the reader gets locked inside the individual consciousness of that character. Then plot seems secondary to mood and thought. And that's fine, but I read for story and when a poetic, beautifully-written novel with fascinating characters also has a compelling story, I'm hooked.

And I was hooked on A Thousand Rooms. All of his books are suspenseful in their own way, especially Patience Stone, but like I said, Thousand Rooms is my favorite for having a strong central plot. I'd recommend it to his fans first and foremost but if you're new to Rahimi Thousand Rooms is a great place to start. Then, if you like it, move on to his more meditative and dream-like books. I hope you get as hooked on him as I am.

Links above are to my reviews.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Other Press.