his lover, Chanda, have disappeared.
Though unmarried, they had been living together, embracing the contemporary mores of the English town where they lived but disgracing themselves in the eyes of their close-knit Pakistani community. Rumors about their disappearance abound, but five months go by before anything certain is known. Finally, on a snow-covered January morning, Chandas brothers are arrested for the murder of their sister and Jugnu.
Shock and disbelief spread through the community, and for Jugnus brother, Shamas, and his wife, Kaukab, it is a moment that marks the beginning of the unraveling of all that is sacred to them. As the novel unfolds over the next twelve months, we watch Kaukab struggle to maintain her Islamic piety as the effects of the double murder prove increasingly corrosive to the life of her family.
Upon its publication last year in England, Alan Hollinghurst praised Maps for Lost Lovers as "haunting, vivid, and tender," and Colm Tóibín hailed it as "a superb achievement, a book in which every detail is nuanced, every piece of drama carefully choreographed, even minor characters carefully drawn." Beautifully written, emotionally and sensually arresting"a Persian love poem for the twenty-first century" (Books Quarterly)this deeply felt and moving novel explores the heart of a family at the crossroads of culture, nationality, religion, and the most personal crises of faith. Maps for Lost Lovers introduces American readers to a magnificent voice in fiction.
The Night of the Great Peacock Moths
Shamas stands in the open door and watches the earth, the magnet that it
is, pulling snowflakes out of the sky towards itself. With their
deliberate, almost-impaired pace, they fall like feathers sinking in
water. The snowstorm has rinsed the air of the incense that drifts into
the houses from the nearby lake with the xylophone jetty, but it is
there even when absent, drawing attention to its own disappearance.
This is the first snow of the season and the neighbourhood's children will be on the slopes all day today, burning candles to heat the runners of toboggans to make them slip with increased fluency, daring each other to lick the frozen spikes of the railings around the church and those around the mosque, smuggling cheese-graters out of the kitchens to refine the symmetry of the snowmen they will build, ...
Although there are times when, to my prosaic Western ears, the imagery does seem to be a bit much, I find it difficult to glibly criticize the book for this alone, especially when I take into account the apparent time and effort that went into writing it (see sidebar). This is not something that would normally color my opinion, but in this case it's enough for me to ask myself, every time I feel that he's laying things on a bit thick, whether the metaphor is there gratuitously to puff out a paragraph or whether, perhaps, he had a specific reason for choosing it! As always, you can judge for yourself by reading a substantial excerpt at BookBrowse.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (733 words).
Map For Lost Lovers explores many issues within the Muslim community, including the central theme of honor killings. According to Amnesty International, an average of 2 women are killed each day in Pakistan for 'betraying the honor of the family' (the reasons for this loss of honor could range from infidelity, including being the victim of rape, through to simply being a
bad cook). Last year, President Pervez Musharraf signed a bill making honor killings an explicit criminal act punishable by death. Prior to this it was possible to be acquitted in most cases under a "grave and sudden provocation" clause.
In 2002 UNICEF estimated that 5,000 women were being killed in India alone each year because their dowries ...
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