A Curse on Dostoevsky

A Curse on Dostoevsky

Book - 2014
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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.
Publisher: New York : Other Press, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9781590515471
Characteristics: 250 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: McLean, Polly
Alternative Title: Maudit soit Dostoïevski.


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Jul 06, 2014

This is a brilliant novel of soaring ambition that takes Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment as a point of departure. Like Raskolnikov, the protagonist of the story, bludgeons a vicious old woman to death (or does he?), and then embarks on a quest for redemption in the war-torn streets and spit-and-baling-wire machinery of justice in war-torn Kabul. His quest is reminiscent of Kafka's The Trial, but Rassoul is his own prosecutor and judge. A sustained meditation on responsibility, the way we accept and sneak away from it, this novel also paints a vivid picture of everyday life in Afghanistan, and helps us understand the crushing burdens and incredible resilience of its people. One of the strongest novels I've read this year.


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