One reviewer compares this relatively short novel to Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. I agree to the extent that they are both relatively short books set in locations that are foreign to most of us, but other than that I don't see much similarity. Dai Sijie's book tells a strong story but has moments of lightness; whereas The Swallows of Kabul is variously described as 'poetic, intimate, and poignant' but there are no light moments. Having said all that The Swallows of Kabul is worth reading for its relevance to current affairs and for the glimmers of humanity that show themselves even in the most relentlessly harsh conditions.
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