Set in a lawless Afghanistan, this novel follows closely in the footsteps of Crime and PunishmentAs its title suggests, A Curse on Dostoevsky puts itself in conversation with the great Russian writer, and specifically with Crime and Punishment. Instead of St Petersburg, the action unfolds in Kabul. (Atiq Rahimi was born in Kabul, but divides his time between France and Afghanistan). Raskolnikov becomes Rassoul, while in place of Sonia we have Rassoul’s fiancee Sophia. The work of the detective Porfiry is carried out by several commanders and militiamen. The murder victim is, like Dostoevsky’s, a pawnbroker, as well as a landlady and a madam. Possible motives include saving Sophia from her clutches, theft, and justice.The text justifies its relationship with Dostoevsky’s novel thus: “This book is best read in Afghanistan, a land previously steeped in mysticism, where people have lost their sense of responsibility.” The murder of the pawnbroker sparks an investigation of crime and punishment (and law and lawlessness, sacrifice and vengeance) in Afghan society. Dostoevsky claimed that if God didn’t exist, everything would be permitted. Yet in Afghanistan God exists not to prevent sins but to justify them. Sophia’s father poisoned the director of the national archives with …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books