A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear was the BOOK CLUB choice for January 2011. If you are not familiar with BOOK CLUB, hosted by the lovely Jen and Nicole, check out the intro post here. I know I am a bit late to the party, although I did participate in the original discussion back in January.
Fiction can express pain and suffering as little else can, as in this slim novel set in Afghanistan in October 1979, a time between coups and the Soviet invasion. Narrator Farhad, a 21-year-old university student in Kabul, goes out drinking with a friend, forgets the curfew and password, and is apprehended by jackbooted soldiers who beat and kick him, leaving him unconscious in a sewer. Mahnaz, the widowed mother of a young son (her husband was jailed as a political prisoner and executed), takes him into her home. What might seem a simple, compassionate act is not only brave, exposing Mahnaz to danger when the returning soldiers search for the student, but also prohibited by the Muslim culture. Farhad, hallucinating and between life and death, stays for days with a woman without a husband and sees not only her hair but also her breast, as she offers her milk to her brother, a young man traumatized by repeated military torture. In prose that is spare and incisive, poetic and searing, prizewinning Afghani author Rahimi, who fled his native land in 1984, captures the distress of his people.
I’ll admit, I didn’t love this book. I think my main issue is that I prefer clear, straightforward prose. Dream and Fear had writing that was more flowery and poetic and not as linear, so despite the short length of the book, I had issues getting through it. I love the idea behind BOOK CLUB though, so I enjoyed discussing this book back in January despite the fact that it wasn’t my cup of tea.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.