The author of Maps for Lost Lovers gives us a new novelat once lyrical and blisteringabout war in our time, told through the lives of five people who come together in post-9/11 Afghanistan.
Marcus, an English doctor whose progressive, outspoken Afghani wife was murdered by the Taliban, opens his homeitself an eerily beautiful monument to his lossesto the others: Lara, from St. Petersburg, looking for evidence of her soldier brother who disappeared decades before during the Soviet invasion; David, an American, a former spy who has seen his ideals turned inside out during his twenty-five years in Afghanistan; Casa, a young Afghani whose hatred of the West plunges him into the depths of zealotry; and James, the Special Forces soldier in whom David sees a dangerous revival of the unquestioning notions of right and wrong that he himself once held.
In mesmerizing prose, Nadeem Aslam reveals the complex tiesof love and desperation, pain and salvation, madness and claritythat bind the characters. And through their stories he creates a timely and achingly intimate portrait of the continuation of wars that shapes our world.
In its radiant language, its depth of feeling, and its unflinching drama, The Wasted Vigil is a luminous work of fiction.
Aslam explores a variety of themes and historical moments as he strives to illustrate 'the continuation of wars' and the connections between these unlikely friends. The notion that fighting, whether internal or external, between friends or amongst nations, can ever be resolved is adroitly examined as Aslam walks with these characters through their pain and searching. His beautiful language, precise imagery, and nuanced characterization add to the rich experience of reading this book. As with Aslam's other work, the plot is subtle and the action spurred largely by character development, but this is a beautiful, powerful book, one that should make us think about the ways we perceive other people. (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Starred Review. There’s no whitewash or caricature here, just authentic writing that delivers the world—and a range of extraordinary characters. Highly recommended.
Starred Review. An intense, empathetic, magisterial interpretation of clashing beliefs and entwined fates, in a harsh and ruined, yet lovely place.
Starred Review. Lyrical but not overwritten, the novel creates an unflinchingly clear picture of a country whose history of strife is still being written.
Daily Telegraph - Sameer Rahim
The symbolism and the sentimentality might be forgivable if the writing were good. But the prose is painfully repetitious: "A spike driven through the pages of history, a spike through the pages of love, a spike through the sacred" .... Sadly, there is too much rigorous condemnation here and too little of the delicacy found in his early work.
Sunday Times - Peter Parker
It might be argued that writing beautifully about horrifying current events is in some way questionable, but The Wasted Vigil reminds us that fiction can do things that mere reportage can't. ..... He has immersed himself in a country and a culture and drawn upon art, mythology and history to provide an involving and morally complex tale of the ruthless betrayals and the queasy compromises that are made by nations and individuals alike.
The Times - Vanora Bennett
This sounds schematic - stereotypes against an exotic, threatening background. But the story that binds these people together is spellbinding - a beautifully drawn web of the fragile connections of trust, misunderstanding, memory, sacrifice, and, against the odds, love, that people who have lost everything else in the deadly stupidity of war must live and die by.
Marie Clair (UK) - Eithne Farry
Marrying breathtakingly beautiful imagery with the ugly brutality of violence, Aslam navigates the troubled history of Afghanistan over the past two decades.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Maggie Heart-breaking Insight into Afghanistan This is probably one of the most profound books I have ever read. It breathes life into the endless news coverage of Afghanistan over the past decade. The horror and degradation suffered on all sides, the seeming hopelessness of finding a way... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kim Five stars plus! The Wasted Vigil is without doubt one of the best-written books I’ve read this year. The writing is positively stunning, the imagery so rich the reader has to pause to simply enjoy the picture the author has painted. This book is one to be... Read More
At the beginning of the novel, Lara, a character reminiscent, in
her painful past and gracefulness, of Lara in Dr. Zhivago,
arrives on Marcus's doorstep to uncover the fate of her brother
Benedikt, who came to Afghanistan with the 1979 Soviet invasion...
The Soviets invaded Afghanistan at the request of the largely
unpopular, pro-Soviet Afghan government, who sought military
assistance against the Mujahideen* (various Afghan opposition groups
who eventually formed one aligned political bloc). The Mujahideen
were partially funded by the CIA during the Carter and Reagan
administrations, and by a number of other countries. In 1979, the
Soviet Union intervened to maintain the communist regime in
Afghanistan. During this same year, President Carter, who saw this
altercation as critical to the Cold War struggle, pledged support to
the insurgent forces. Once the Soviets invaded, they quickly took
control of the urban centers and major military bases,...
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...