The Wandering Falcon: Book summary and reviews of The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad

The Wandering Falcon

by Jamil Ahmad

The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2011
    256 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

A haunting literary debut set in the forbidding remote tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Traditions that have lasted for centuries, both brutal and beautiful, create a rigid structure for life in the wild, astonishing place where Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan meet-the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is a formidable world, and the people who live there are constantly subjected to extremes - of place and of culture.

The Wandering Falcon begins with a young couple, refugees from their tribe, who have traveled to the middle of nowhere to escape the cruel punishments meted out upon those who transgress the boundaries of marriage and family. Their son, Tor Baz, descended from both chiefs and outlaws, becomes "The Wandering Falcon," a character who travels among the tribes, over the mountains and the plains, into the towns and the tents that constitute the homes of the tribal people. The media today speak about this unimaginably remote region, a geopolitical hotbed of conspiracies, drone attacks, and conflict, but in the rich, dramatic tones of a master storyteller, this stunning, honor-bound culture is revealed from the inside.

Jamil Ahmad has written an unforgettable portrait of a world of custom and compassion, of love and cruelty, of hardship and survival, a place fragile, unknown, and unforgiving.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"These nine tautly written stories follow the fortunes of the 'wandering falcon' of the title - a Pakistani boy, Tor Baz. Beginning in the 1950s, in the Baluchistan desert, the narrative moves slowly northwards through the tribal areas that border Afghanistan, concluding some two decades later near the mountains of Chitral." - Financial Times

"His psychological opacity chimes with the novel's subject matter - a community led by machismo where people cannot afford to mourn their losses for too long if they are to survive. The simplicity of the narration gives a fable-like effect to the storytelling. Its elegiac voice mourns the lot of the characters, yet refuses to judge the laws that trap them." - The Independent (UK)

"Starred Review. A gripping book, as important for illuminating the current state of this region as it is timeless in its beautiful imagery and rhythmic prose." - Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating journey; essential reading." - Library Journal

"Fascinating material that's badly in need of artistic shaping." - Kirkus Reviews

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More Information

An interview with Jamil Ahmad, in which he describes his life as a civil servant in the northwest tribal regions of Pakistan, and why it took forty years for his first book to find a publisher. Ahmad died in July 2014 aged 83.

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