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Maps for Lost Loversby Nadeem Aslam
Synopses & Reviews
Jugnu and 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, Chanda's brothers are arrested for the murder of their sister and Jugnu.
Shock and disbelief spread through the community, and for Jugnu's 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.
"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 disappearance of Jugnu and Chanda, lovers who broke Islamic law to live in sin, throws the small community into upheaval. The police arrest Chanda's brothers, whom they believe murdered the couple to avenge their family's shame. Meanwhile, Jugnu's brother, Shamas, contemplates the loss, occasionally clashing with his wife, Kaukab, a devout Muslim who overtly disapproved of the relationship. Aslam depicts an insular ex-pat Pakistani community fighting to preserve its cultural heritage and losing the battle to its Western-born children — often quite violently. At the heart of the turmoil is sexual freedom, and Aslam illustrates the many ways women's lives are restricted and romantic love is denied in the name of religion. At times, Aslam's critique grows didactic, as when he saddles his characters with long stretches of wooden, philosophical dialogue. But in Kaukab, the lonely, sympathetic believer who inadvertently alienated her own children, Aslam personifies the conflicts of acculturation, crafting a truthful story that resists easy conclusions." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"It depicts an extraordinary panorama of life within a Muslim community....Thoughtful, revealing, lushly written and painful, this timely book deserves the widest audience." David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten
"A superb achievement, a book in which every detail is nuanced, every piece of drama carefully choreographed, even minor characters carefully drawn." Colm Tóibín, author of The Master and Blackwater Lightship
"Haunting. [Aslam?s] vivid and tender portrait of the strict Islamic mother, isolated by her unassailable belief, has stayed with me; as has his metamorphosis of a Northern English town into a poet?s universe of flowers, trees and butterflies." Alan Hollinghurst, author of The Line of Beauty and The Swimming Pool Library
"A striking and impressive novel." The Sunday Times
"Rich in detail, languid in cadence and iridescent with remarkable images...Aslam takes us by the hand and, scattering his trail of bewitching images, leads us into his story...Rarely does Aslam put a foot wrong. This is that rare sort of book that gives a voice to those whose voices are seldom heard." The Observer
"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." The Independent
"An extraordinary work, echoing Rohinton Mistry and Salman Rushdie, but entirely, and unmistakably, the product of a wholly original mind." The Herald
"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 Guardian
"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." The Economist
"This is a Persian love poem for the 21st century, and Aslam is an author to watch." Books Quarterly
"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." The Irish Times
About the Author
Nadeem Aslam is the author of the award-winning novel Season of the Rainbirds. Born in Pakistan, he now lives in London.
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