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.
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).
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 great and genuine strength here is the fairness with which Aslam presents all viewpoints....But Aslam overstates and sentimentalizes Shamas'sselfless saintly decency, and drowns the story in a gratuitously exotic and sensuous hothouse atmosphere evoked by ludicrously strained imagery....Often exquisite; too often, too much of a good thing.
The Independent Maps for Lost Lovers is a work of great courage both technically and
spiritually . . . Stylistically the novel is equally daring . . . A filigree of
quests for loves that never were, of passions cut short and of romances that are
about to be. I was heartbroken when the dense, dark tapestry was finished.
In this book, filled with stories of cruelty, injustice, bigotry and ignorance, love never steps out of the picture-it gleams at the edges of even the deepest wounds....a remarkable achievment.
The Economist Maps for Lost Lovers is a novel of extraordinary quality. Islamists would be foolish to try and make political mischief out of it, while western readers would be foolish to ignore such a carefully crafted work.
This is a Persian love poem for the 21st century, and Aslam is an author to watch.
The Irish Times
Aslam's prose soars, dazzling images abound . . . Through the opulence of his writing and the darkness of his message Aslam quite brilliantly and shockingly seduces his reader . . . Beautiful and only too real, this story born of romance and pain matches its artistry with courage. It is an important novel and also a very fine one.
David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten
It depicts an extraordinary panorama of life within a Muslim community . . .
Thoughtful, revealing, lushly written and painful, this timely book deserves the
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Maryam Ahmed Maps of lost lovers Aslam expressed the complexities of religion, and culture in a very fascinating manner. How our customs contaminate our perspectives and judgment and make us so malicious. Chanda's brothers killed Jugnu and Chanda because they were living in a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Payal Parmar Map for lost lovers.... “Shamas stands in the open door and watches the earth, the magnet that it is, pulling snowflakes out of the sky towards itself.”
This is how the beautiful story of Shamas, Jugnnu, Chanda, Kaukab and few other people unfolds in the book, “Maps... Read More
Rated of 5
by swanlust Maps for a lost generation Reading this book for me was like eating a bowl of 'gulaab jaamans'* after a two day fast; sinfully pleasurable, drowning in sheera, oozing forth warmth and sticky sweetness, intensely gratifying in its every mouthful; but at the same time... Read More
Honor Killings: 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
were considered insufficient.
United Nations Population Fund, on a global level:
One in every three women
has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way.
At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive
Written in a lush, lyrical style, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment. The reading guide includes a number of recipes to share with friends and family!
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