Afghan tale of oppression wins French literature prize
By John Lichfield in Paris
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
An Afghan who fled his country 24 years ago carrying his mother’s carpet and a few crumpled bank notes was yesterday awarded France’s premier literary prize. Atiq Rahimi, 46, took the 2008 Prix Goncourt – the French equivalent of the Man Booker prize – with his first novel in French, a stark essay on the oppression of women in Afghanistan.
M. Rahimi, who has dual French and Afghan nationality, said his Goncourt victory was “a sign of recognition both for my work and the story of my life.”
Although he has written four novels in Farsi, and several film and television scripts in French, The Stone of Patience was his first novel in his adopted language. It takes the form of a poetic, and sometimes crude, monologue by a woman sitting with her dying “war hero” husband. M. Rahimi said the book showed that, beneath their veils, Afghan women were the same as “women anywhere, with the same desires, dreams and hopes, the same strengths and weaknesses.”