Monday, 22 July 2013

Abandoned: Satans Dostojevkskij / A Curse on Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi

First published: 2012
Original title:
Maudit Soit Dostoïevski

Original language: French
Translation to Swedish by: Kristina Ekelund
Page count:

Bokus says: For every crime, there must be a punishment. Rassoul's world consists of little more than a squalid rented room - strewn with books by Dostoevsky, relics from his days as a student of Russian Literature at Leningrad - and his beloved fiancee Sophia, for whom he would do anything. So when he finds himself committing a murder, axe in hand, as if re-enacting the opening of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, his identification with the novel's anti-hero is complete: Rassoul is Raskolnikov, transplanted to late twentieth-century Kabul. Amid the war-torn streets, Rassoul searches for the meaning of his crime. Instead he is pulled into a feverish plot thick with murder, guilt, morality and Sharia law, where the lines between fact and fiction, dream and reality, become dangerously blurred. Blackly comic, with flashes of poetry as well as brilliant irony, Atiq Rahimi's latest novel is an ingenious recasting of Dostoevsky's masterpiece and a transgressive satire with a frightening resonance all its own.
I say: I read this in Swedish – or I tried to – but I’m writing this in English because the English translation will be out next month (and I may try it again).

I have issues with reading certain translations in Swedish because I find certain types of prose more beautiful in English. However, I was too excited about this after reading a review on a Swedish book blog that I couldn’t wait for the English translation.
My mistake.

I got as far as page 58 and found the story a boring and pale imitation of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The prose was gruellingly stiff and stilted, and I found it agonising and frustrating to read. I read The Patience Stone by Rahimi last year and enjoyed the prose, so I have no idea what happened here.
Either way, if I stumble upon the English translation in the future I may give it another go.

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