Yasmina Khadra

Algerian soldier and writer

Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul, who created the pen-name using his wife’s two forenames. Khadra is one of the most influential Algerian authors active today, and writes in French. He was born on 10 January 1955 in Kenadsa, in the Algerian Sahara. Before becoming a novelist, he served as an officer in the Algerian army and participated in the war on terror. He left the army in 2000 to devote himself to writing full-time.

His best-known works include The Swallows of Kabul and The Sirens of Baghdad, which, along with The Attack (2005), form a loosely connected trilogy centred on the tension between the East and the West, as well as What the Day Owes the Night, which was adapted into a film in 2012.

The Attack

On the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Attack was first published in French in 2005, and was translated into English the following year. It has won several literary awards, including the Prix des Libraires in 2006. The novel is narrated by Amin, a surgeon working in Tel Aviv, which is being ravaged by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the wake of a suicide bombing in the city centre, he learns that the bomber was none other than his wife, Sihem, who was willing to die for the Palestinian cause. His world is turned upside down, and from that moment onwards, his life is defined by his struggle to understand what could have driven her to commit such a terrible act.

Although this novel draws on a political and cultural reality which continues to divide public opinion around the world even today, it does not take sides in the conflict: instead, it paints a picture of humanity through the lives of the people caught in the middle of it.

Summary

A terrible shock

The hospital in Tel Aviv is thrown into chaos in the wake of a suicide bombing which has just taken place in a restaurant in the Hakirya district. The attack took a heavy toll: 19 people were killed, and many more were injured. Amin Jaafari, a Palestinian surgeon who is well-integrated in the Jewish community in Israel, carries out emergency surgeries on the survivors throughout the night. When he returns home, Navid Ronnen, a friend who serves in the police force, tells him that he is needed back at the hospital. To his tremendous surprise and horror, he is asked to identify the remains of his wife, Sihem, who is believed to have been the bomber. Amin faints from the shock.