Nadeem Aslam is the author of a previous award-winning novel, Season of the Rainbirds (1993). He was born in Pakistan and now lives in England.
In this poignant, lushly written novel, Aslam (Season of the Rainbirds) explores the interwoven lives of Pakistani immigrants in an English town they have rechristened Dasht-e-Tanhaii, "the Wilderness of Solitude" or "the Desert of Loneliness." The disappearance of Jugnu and Chanda, lovers who broke Islamic law to live in sin, throws the small community into upheaval. The police arrest Chanda's brothers, whom they believe murdered the couple to avenge their family's shame. Meanwhile, Jugnu's brother, Shamas, contemplates the loss, occasionally clashing with his wife, Kaukab, a devout Muslim who overtly disapproved of the relationship. Aslam depicts an insular ex-pat Pakistani community fighting to preserve its cultural heritage and losing the battle to its Western-born children often quite violently. At the heart of the turmoil is sexual freedom, and Aslam illustrates the many ways women's lives are restricted and romantic love is denied in the name of religion. At times, Aslam's critique grows didactic, as when he saddles his characters with long stretches of wooden, philosophical dialogue. But in Kaukab, the lonely, sympathetic believer who inadvertently alienated her own children, Aslam personifies the conflicts of acculturation, crafting a truthful story that resists easy conclusions. (May 8) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-A Pakistani enclave in contemporary London is beset by uncertainty when an unmarried Muslim couple-an impossibility for many with loyal Pakistani and religious ties to imagine, let alone condone-are found murdered. Kaukab, the deeply religious middle-aged woman who is both a neighbor and the man's sister-in-law, grapples with the fact that the pair lay dead for many days before being discovered. Kaukab is also struggling with her aging body, her younger son's alienation, and her husband's inattentiveness to Muslim law. Readers see most clearly into Kaukab's world, but her viewpoint is not the only one represented: her husband reveals his inner life and, in the end, the last morning the murdered couple lived is recounted, as are the actions and thoughts of their killers. In spite of the adult concerns of this novel, high school students, especially those with knowledge of Pakistani emigres, will find this tale spellbinding. Aslam writes beautifully and evokes each character's emotion with elegance.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Set in a Pakistani immigrant community outside London, Aslam's second novel (after Season of the Rainbirds) revolves around social worker Shamas and his wife, Kaukab. While Shamas believes foremost in the human soul, Kaukab is a fervent follower of Islam; her devotion to its laws and practices, as she understands them, has driven away her children and perhaps contributed to the death of her brother-in-law, Jugnu, and his lover, who were murdered for the sin of living together while unmarried. Aslam paints a grim picture of Islamic beliefs, but he also addresses fanaticism generally and the lack of critical oversight that comes with it. There are parallels to the Catholic clergy scandals, the hypocrisy of the Christian Right for placing zeal before compassion, and the tendency of many cultures (including Western) to marginalize women. Aslam's fictional neighborhood is alive with complex characters caught in a society that contradicts many of their own beliefs. Though the writing is overwrought-some images carry on for entire paragraphs-Aslam clearly cares about this microcosm of life, and his writing style adds an element of poetry to the bleak and seemingly loveless lives within. Recommended for all libraries.-Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Impressive. . . . [Aslam's] prose is stylistically dazzling. . . . His characters' inner lives are explored in-depth, flaws and all. . . . A novel as affecting as it is provocative."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Extraordinary. . . . It deepens our knowledge of life. . . .
Aslam has created a novel which-grave yet exultant, brutal but
compassionate-achieves its complex humanity, and its final
affirmations of love and beauty, through a real reckoning with
despair and heartbreak."--The New York Review of Books
"Artful . . . and heartbreaking. . . . [Aslam's] prose is richly
atmospheric, his tone engagingly introspective."--The New York
Times Book Review
"A writer's tour de force. . . . Powerful."--San Francisco Chronicle "Aslam is a rich and vividly metaphorical writer . . . This is an exquisitely sad novel, and it is worth the effort of letting its spell take you over."--Newsday "Poetic, sensuous, precisely descriptive and lavishly allusive prose . . . Maps for Lost Lovers not only an important and memorable achievement, but a book that is deeply satisfying to read."--The Washington Times "Aslam reveals-artfully and heartbreakingly-a psychology at war with itself . . . His prose is richly atmospheric, his tone engagingly introspective."--Akash Kapur, The New York Times Book Review "[An] exquisitely crafted, lushly written novel . . . Aslam combines sensual prose with a compelling storyline."--Booklist
"Poignant, lushly written . . . a truthful story that resists easy conclusions."--Publishers Weekly "[A] painstakingly crafted exploration of cultural conflict . . . exquisite."--Kirkus