The Blind Man's Garden: Book summary and reviews of The Blind Man's Garden by Nadeem Aslam

The Blind Man's Garden

By Nadeem Aslam

The Blind Man's Garden
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

Jeo and Mikal are foster brothers from a small town in Pakistan. Though they were inseparable as children, their adult lives have diverged: Jeo is a dedicated medical student, married a year; Mikal has been a vagabond since he was fifteen, in love with a woman he can't have. But when Jeo decides to sneak across the border into Afghanistan - not to fight with the Taliban against the Americans, rather to help care for wounded civilians - Mikal determines to go with him, to protect him.

Yet Jeo's and Mikal's good intentions cannot keep them out of harm's way. As the narrative takes us from the wilds of Afghanistan to the heart of the family left behind - their blind father, haunted by the death of his wife and by the mistakes he may have made in the name of Islam and nationhood; Mikal's beloved brother and sister-in-law; Jeo's wife, whose increasing resolve helps keep the household running, and her superstitious mother - we see all of these lives upended by the turmoil of war.

In language as lyrical as it is piercing, in scenes at once beautiful and harrowing, The Blind Man's Garden unflinchingly describes a crucially contemporary yet timeless world in which the line between enemy and ally is indistinct, and where the desire to return home burns brightest of all.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"There are fits of beauty and lyricism through the novel, but the uneven pacing leaves the novel unbalanced." - Publishers Weekly

"Aslam sympathizes not with causes, but with people, and this is a memorable portrait of a people torn apart by war." - Kirkus

"With [Aslam's] previous three novels, he's established a reputation for two rare abilities: to write rich, lyrical prose in his second language; and to examine Islam in a heartfelt yet clear-eyed way. In both cases, that reputation looks certain to be boosted by The Blind Man's Garden." - Daily Mail (UK)

"By any measure The Blind Man's Garden is an impressive accomplishment; a gripping and moving piece of storytelling that gets the calamitous first act in the "War on Terror" on to the page with grace, intelligence and rare authenticity." - The Guardian (UK)

"Once or twice a year, a book stuns me. Nadeem Aslam's fourth novel, The Blind Man's Garden, has done just that ... despite the ugliness of war, this book glows with a radiant beauty. The natural world almost transcends the atrocities, so sensuously is it described. There is something mellifluous, almost melodic, about the gently poetic descriptions of wildlif. ... The poignancy is gut-wrenching." - The Independent (UK)

"This is a powerful, moving novel about love, friendship, war. Magnificent." - The Times (UK)

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Author Information

Nadeem Aslam Author Biography

Photo copyright Jerry Bauer.

Nadeem Aslam was born in Pakistan in 1966 and moved to Britain at age 14. His family left Pakistan to escape President Zia's regime.

His novel Maps for Lost Lovers, winner of the Kuriyama Prize, took him more than a decade to complete. Aslam has stated that the first chapter alone took five years to complete, and that the following story in the book took seven months to complete before rejecting it. At the end, he kept only one sentence of the seventy pages written. Aslam's latest novel, The Wasted Vigil, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in September, 2008. It is set in Afghanistan. He traveled to Afghanistan during the writing of the book but had never visited the country before writing the first draft. On 11th February 2011, it was short-listed for the Warwick Prize For Writing.

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