The Blind Man's Garden

Nadeem Aslam

The Blind Man's Garden

Jeo and Mikal, foster-brothers from a small Pakistani city, secretly enter Afghanistan: not to fight with the Taliban, but to help and care for wounded civilians. But it soon becomes apparent that good intentions can't keep them out of harm's way...From the wilds of Afghanistan to the heart of the family left behind - their blind father haunted for years by the death of his wife, by the mistakes he may have made in the name of Islam and nationhood, Jeo's steadfast wife and her superstitious mother - Aslam's prose takes us on an extraordinary journey, through war, tragedy, love and brotherhood. 3.7 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
The Blind Man's Garden

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 416
RRP
Date of Publication February 2013
ISBN 978-0571287918
Publisher Faber and Faber
 

Jeo and Mikal, foster-brothers from a small Pakistani city, secretly enter Afghanistan: not to fight with the Taliban, but to help and care for wounded civilians. But it soon becomes apparent that good intentions can't keep them out of harm's way...From the wilds of Afghanistan to the heart of the family left behind - their blind father haunted for years by the death of his wife, by the mistakes he may have made in the name of Islam and nationhood, Jeo's steadfast wife and her superstitious mother - Aslam's prose takes us on an extraordinary journey, through war, tragedy, love and brotherhood.

The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam

Read an extract on the Guardian website.

Reviews

The Guardian

John Lasdun

He knows his different worlds intimately and seems able to feel their very different kinds of want and anguish on his own nerves, with sharp immediacy. There aren't many writers who can take you inside the heads of, say, a vulnerable young Pakistani widow one moment, and a US Special Forces operative the next, with as little visible effort of impersonation as he does in The Blind Man's Garden.

31/01/2013

Read Full Review


The Daily Mail

James Walton

The decision of two of them to go to Afghanistan also means that we’re taken into the heart of the war, from Taliban fortresses to American torture cells. Yet, Aslam never forgets his duty to make all of these people entirely convincing - or to serve up page after page of compelling story-telling.

31/01/2013

Read Full Review


The Independent

Arifa Akbar

Aslam's painstaking writing process – he works in isolation and self-edits heavily – renders the prose breath-taking, describing sometimes beautiful, sometimes wretched landscapes. It is this hypnotic style that gives Aslam's imagined universe an other-worldly quality, even as the story references the real … characters, too, take on a mythic aspect that renders them less than solid, as if they were more symbols than flesh-and-blood people. When read as a story that is not aiming for everyday realism, the plot – artful and implausible at times – can work well on this level.

01/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Independent on Sunday

Leyla Sanai

Despite the atrocities Aslam depicts, his view on Islam is nuanced. He enumerates achievements of peaceful Muslims: trigonometry in Mecca, paper in Cordoba, science in Cairo, a house of wisdom in Baghdad. Rohan is a good man who regrets his own zealous dedication to Islam in the past. Aslam also shows us how difficult life is for ordinary people in Pakistan ... Yet despite the ugliness of war, this book glows with a radiant beauty. The natural world almost transcends the atrocities, so sensuously is it described.

03/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Ian Thomson

The portentous writing in The Blind Man’s Garden (“Above him the sky has suddenly opened into the cold of the cosmos”) detracts only somewhat from a gripping work that goes to the heart of Muslim fanaticism and Pentagon intransigence alike. Aslam is a wonderful talent, and we are lucky to have him.

08/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Times

Kate Saunders

This is a powerful, moving novel about love, friendship, war. Magnificent.

23/02/2013

Read Full Review


The London Review of Books

Pankaj Mishra

Aslam’s novels are marked by this alternation of brutality and sympathy; tradition is seen as a source of both oppression and consolation. In The Wasted Vigil and now The Blind Man’s Garden, he describes an overtly political lower-middle-class sensibility fed by reflexively anti-Western Urdu tabloids, readings in the Koran and the Hadith, and an entrenched view of the evolution of Islamic societies and the modern West … The most striking thing about The Blind Man’s Garden is its resemblance to a fairy tale. Dramatic partings and reunions, stories of betrayal, captivity, exile and rescue, historical legends, Islamic folklore, rumours, superstition: the novel aims at a kind of enchantment that has something in common with the Hamzanama and the fables of the Pakistani writer Intezar Husain ...

07/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Spectator

Peter Parker

Aslam’s narrative exerts a firm grip, but would be almost unendurable were it not for the sense he gives of a counterbalancing beauty in the world. This is not the indifferent nature of Hardy or Housman, but something that simply coexists with horror: birds in trees ‘looking as though their outlines and markings are drawn with a finer nib than their surroundings’ or ‘moths that look like shavings from a pencil sharpener’.

16/03/2013

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Anthony Cummins

If Aslam regrets the local impact of the United States – one of many harrowing scenes involves Mikal’s treatment at the hands of the CIA – he reserves greater ire for the home-grown menace from those who use religion as a tool of subordination. He often outlines a world-view, allowing the irony to stand without comment. Of a terrorist who lays siege to a school, we are told that “in his youth he had murdered two men during a dispute over a woman’s honour but had then discovered peace through Islam”.

22/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Observer

Adam Mars-Jones

In time, magical realism may be seen as a self-imposed variant of orientalism, complicit in the exotic expectations of outsiders. We are given to understand that when it comes to certain countries, certain cultures, the truth is incredible and, conversely, the unbelievable must be true. This isn't at all what Nadeem Aslam wants to do, which is (at a guess) to dissolve the false opposition between reason and wonder, and the presence of these elements is all the more puzzling.

11/02/2013

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Robert Collins

Aslam’s entire narrative, rendered in a relentless present tense, comes wrapped in this thick cloak of numinous metaphor. Its effect is to make it increasingly hard for the reader to engage with — and sometimes even believe in — these protagonists. Barely can they take two steps, in fact, without the physical world erupting in mystical significance: stars are seen “smearing the sky in ancient phosphorescence” ...

27/01/2013

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore