Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Patience Stone: Atiq Rahimi

The title The Patience Stone: Sang-E Saboor comes from a Persian folktale about a magical black stone, the Sang-E Saboor, which absorbs all of the pain and suffering of the people who speak to it. The legend goes that when the stone has taken in too much sorrow, it will explode all of the pain and suffering on the world and that will be the day the world ends. This folktale is the key to this short novel about a woman who sits with her comatose husband in a room somewhere in the fractious Middle East.

Atiq Rahimi has written an incredibly poignant and moving story about a woman’s liberation. In the Middle East (and in many other places, as well!), women face harsh criticism and must obey strict rules of conduct. There are some who believe that these rules of conduct are archaic and should be thrown off. Rahimi is one of them, as illustrated by his novel. The woman in his book is a wife and mother who is caring for her husband in a single room while guns blast in the street outside the window. Her husband was shot in the neck, and is alive but comatose. It is this state of living unconsciousness that allows the woman to talk to her husband as she never has before. She derides him for his behavior in their marriage, and she reveals some of her innermost secrets to him. She speaks to him as a wife would never be allowed to speak to her husband in their culture. She speaks to him as she would to the Sang-E Saboor.

What Rahimi has done with his novel is given a voice to an entire population of women who have been held silent for centuries. The Patience Stone is an incredible volume of important weight. If women worldwide are ever to have equality, then it is of dire importance that their stories be heard and understood, no matter how painful it is to hear. Rahimi is putting the pain of a real life in our faces and we must have the strength to listen.


  1. Hello! What a great invitation to read an awesome book! It sounds fascinating! How ARE you?

  2. Actually, I've been a little under the weather. At the worst possible time, too! :-(