Attack (Khadra)

Book Reviews
By the end of The Attack, Israel's heavy firepower appears to have marginally eclipsed Palestinian suicide bombing in the ugly-weapon stakes for Khadra, but his achievement in this novel is neither his take on the local politics nor his moral finessing. Instead, it is the way that he limns, quite brilliantly, the character of a man torn to pieces by extremism and extreme social distress, neither of which has been of his own making.
Jonathan Wilson - Washington Post

Khadra, the pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul, an exiled Algerian writer celebrated for his politically themed fiction (The Swallows of Kabul), turns his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this moving novel unlikely to satisfy partisans on either side of the issue. Dr. Amin Jaafari is a man caught between two worlds; he's a Bedouin Arab surgeon struggling to integrate himself into Israeli society. The balancing act becomes impossible when the terrorist responsible for a suicide bombing that claims 20 lives, including many children, is identified as Jaafari's wife by the Israeli police. Jaafari's disbelief that his secular, loving spouse committed the atrocity is overcome when he receives a letter from her posthumously. In an effort to make sense of her decision, Jaafari plunges into the Palestinian territories to discover the forces that recruited her. Khadra, who nicely captures his hero's turmoil in trying to come to terms with the endless violence, closes on an appropriately grim note.
Publishers Weekly

Khadra (The Swallows of Kabul) has the ability to convey that damning sense of unrelenting anxiety that may indeed be the object of terrorism. His latest novel concerns Dr. Amin Jaafari, an esteemed surgeon of Arab-Bedouin descent who has worked against the odds to become a relatively well-appointed citizen of Tel Aviv. In an instant, the doctor's life is turned inside-out by a suicide-bomb attack near the hospital where he practices. The very worst of it comes when he learns that his beloved wife, who perished in the attack, is believed to have been the one who actually carried out the bombing. Incensed by this accusation, Amin rejects the idea that their idyllic marriage may not have been all that it seemed. His relentless search for the truth leads him back to a place from his past, and the story comes full circle. This could prove to be a book of some importance owing to its fine technique and relevance to current world affairs. Yasmina Khadra is a pseudonym for Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former officer in the Algerian army who lives in France. Recommended for all fiction collections. —Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati and Hamilton Cty.
Library Journal

Within relatively few pages, The Attack tells us so much about the complex realities of life in modern Israel. The narrator is a much-honored surgeon in Tel Aviv, Dr. Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli. As Amin works on the victims of a suicide attack, saving lives, his friend, a Jewish policeman, tells him his wife was also in the attack. Amin is horrified by his wife's death, and stunned to learn the police believe it was she who was the suicide bomber. What unfolds is Amin's determination to find out if indeed his wife was the bomber, and then to learn why she did this outrageous act. Amin had believed their marriage was happy, that their comfortable life in Israel, their assimilation in Israeli society, was a success. What follows is a tense few weeks as Amin follows every tiny lead that might bring him to the truth. He is doing this as he is lost in grief and irrational rage. His once-friendly neighbors have trashed his home and threatened him, since he is the husband of a terrorist. So, with his life completely upturned, he uses his intelligence and family ties to discover the truth about his wife, about her decision, about the condition of the Palestinian community, including Amin's own relatives. You may recognize the author because of his book The Swallows of Kabul. He is a former Algerian army officer, now living in France, and seems to be an ideal interpreter of the life of an Arab living an assimilated life in a Western country. The Attack is suspenseful and insightful. —Claire Rosser

"How could she?" That's the question haunting an eminent Arab Israeli surgeon, whose wife has become the latest suicide bomber. Khadra (pseudonym of a retired Algerian army officer) moves from Algeria (Wolf Dreams, 2003) and Afghanistan (The Swallows of Kabul, 2004) to Israel/Palestine. A huge explosion kills 19 people, 11 of them schoolchildren, in a fast-food restaurant in Tel Aviv. Amin Jaafari operates on the injured before returning to his beautiful home, under the illusion that his wife Sihem is visiting her grandmother's farm. Then he gets a call to identify her body in the morgue and is interrogated by the cops for three days before being cleared. Amin is still in denial; after all, they were a close, loving couple, they were not practicing Muslims, and most of their friends were Jews. Only when he finds a note from her implying her guilt does he accept the truth. He is attacked by a mob outside his home and is given shelter by a fellow doctor and old flame, Kim Yehuda. Desperately confused and angry, Amin drives to Bethlehem; that is where Sihem had mailed her note. He exposes himself to danger by forcing a meeting with the radical imam, but gets nowhere; Kim sympathetically points out that he needs a shrink more than a sheikh. But Amin feels betrayed, doubly so when he suspects, on flimsy evidence, that Sihem was having an affair with his nephew Adel, whom he tracks down in Jenin after scary encounters with Intifada leaders. Yes, says Adel, Sihem had been part of an Intifada cell; no, they were never lovers. Khadra keeps the story moving at a good clip, but there's a flaw at its center; how could Amin's intimate marriage have contained such a devastating secret? Sihem is a shadowy figure, and her freelance self-destruction, opposed by her cell, is unconvincing. Amin's question is never satisfyingly answered. The action is always convincing, the relationships less so.
Kirkus Reviews

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