KARA KUSH by Idries Shah


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This Afghan poet of repute, author of some 20 books in English, now offers a first novel: a disjointed, sprawling, rather nonpoetic tome about the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The infant Adam Durany was dubbed Kara Kush, ""Eagle,"" by his Turkestani nurse; when the full-grown Adam, American-educated and a university professor, decides to depart the cloistered halls of academe and reincarnate as a guerrilla leader so as to stay the Russian advance on his country, he adopts ""Eagle"" as his battle name. Sequestering himself in stalactite-ridden, Buddhist artifact-cluttered natural caves near Kabul, he waits while Others defect--from similar high positions--to join him. These include a British millionaire of Afghan descent, the mayor of a Turkestani town, a Nuristani leader, a Russian defector, and many, many others (characters number in the hundreds). The Eagle's band harrasses degenerate Russians who rape daughters in full view of mothers (who have themselves been tortured hideously), etc., all the while trying to prevent the Nikolai (the Russians) from pillaging four billion dollars in gold coin--the treasure of Ahmad Shah, Afghanistan's first modern king--and taking the money from the country. The Russians need this vast capital to annihilate the West; the Afghans crave it for weapons to trounce the Russians. The Nikolais have nearly absconded with: the hoard aboard their hideous ""Caspian Sea Monsters""--huge hovercraft, black and menacing--when, climactically, a group of Americans of Afghan descent, sponsored by the CIA, appear with super red-eye missiles and bomb the treasure to the bottom of the sea. The Eagle cries victory. . . Wonderful on Afghan atmosphere, less successful as a novel, this unwieldy if colorful (and highly prejudicial, politically) pastiche has too many characters, too little meaningful interplay between them (they're stick figures in ethnic cloaks), too little romance, and too sketchy, and unconvincing, a plot. Still, a breezy read: impassioned, action-packed, and information-stuffed.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Publisher: Stein & Day