The Attack is the second novel in a trilogy in which Khadra sets out to describe the contemporary Middle East, in particular the galvanising power of Islamic fundamentalism. Set in Israel, it tells the story of a successful Arab-Israeli surgeon suddenly confronted by the shocking news that his wife has blown herself up in a crowded restaurant. In his first UK appearance since the publication of The Attack, he discussed terrorism, the Western confusion about the Arab world and, ultimately, the power of literature.
Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of the Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul, a counter-terrorism officer in the Algerian army. He revealed his true identity in 2001 after going into exile in France. His novel set in Afghanistan under the Taliban, The Swallows of Kabul, was short listed for the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Matthew Reisz is the editor of the Jewish Quarterly.