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Having read each of Nadeem Aslam s previous novels with great enjoyment, I bought this one in hardback almost as soon as it was released His novel Maps for Lost Lovers which took Aslam ten years to write I ve read twice and it remains one of my favourite modern novels Aslam s last novel The Wasted Vigil which is also set in Afghanistan I enjoyed but found the message ultimately hopeless, I wondered therefore what this one would be like Having read Aslam before I knew I wasn t in for a Having read each of Nadeem Aslam s previous novels with great enjoyment, I bought this one in hardback almost as soon as it was released His novel Maps for Lost Lovers which took Aslam ten years to write I ve read twice and it remains one of my favourite modern novels Aslam s last novel The Wasted Vigil which is also set in Afghanistan I enjoyed but found the message ultimately hopeless, I wondered therefore what this one would be like Having read Aslam before I knew I wasn t in for a comfortable ride it wasn t, but it is definitely worth it.Nadeem Aslam s fourth novel is often brutal and sometimes angry, but totally unforgettable Aslam s often poetic writing is rich in imagery and deeply poignant Weaving together the political and social realities of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the tragic story of a family deeply and irrevocably affected by the war which comes in the wake of 9 11, The Blind Man s Garden is ultimately, a story of hope and resilience If love was the result of having caught a glimpse of another s loneliness, then he had loved Mikal since they were ten years old This almost brother This blood love in everything but name Jeo and Mikal are foster brothers from a small Pakistani town together they decide to go to Afghanistan, following the terrorist attacks in the USA, to care for wounded civilians However there are malign forces at work against the pair, and their good intentions soon put them both into harm s way Left behind are Jeo s wife Nadeem, secretly in love with Mikal, and Rohan, the father who brought them up, slowly going blind, and haunted by the memory of his dead wife He walks out into the garden where the first few lines of moonlight are picking out leaves and bowers He takes a lantern from an alcove Standing under the silk cotton tree he raises the lantern into the air, looking up into the great crown The tallest trees in the garden are ten times the height of a man and even with his arm at full stretch Rohan cannot extend the light beyond the nearest layer of foliage He is unable to see any of the bird snares the network of thin steel wires hidden deep inside the canopies, knots that will come alive and tighten just enough to hold a wing or neck in delicate, harmless captivity.Or so the stranger had claimed The man had appeared at the house late in the morning today and asked to put up the snares A large rectangular cage was attached to the back of his rusting bicycle He explained that he rode through town with the cage full of birds and people paid him to release one orof them, the act of compassion gaining the customer forgiveness for some of his sins Also left behind are Basie, Mikal s elder brother and Yasmin his wife, Rohan s daughter They teach at a local Christian school run by Father Mede which some Islamic zealots wanting to make a name for themselves, have their eye on At another local school Ardent Spirit the sinister Major Kyra and his saluki hound stalk the rooftop watching the town and mourning the loss of his own brother in Afghanistan.Set against the backdrop of the superstitions and strictures of a small town in Pakistan, and among the wilds of Afghanistan, The Blind Man s Garden takes the reader on a terrible journey The war is seen from many perspectives, those left behind, those caught up in a war they don t believe in, the war lords and the American soldiers, and the women for whom the world is uneven and narrow Nadeem Aslam tells a story that sometimes makes the reader want to look away it is a story of terrible events coming out of misunderstanding and suspicion There are faults on each side, Aslam unflinchingly portrays the Islamic zealot, the war lord, the American soldier and the misguided follower realistically beliefs fuelled by hysteria and propaganda leading to savage acts of war nadeem aslam is a treasure to the world and everyone should read him his writing is simply fantastic i think i liked the writing in The Wasted Vigil better, but probably one would like best the one one reads first the writing s fullness and ornatedness the riches of adjectives, similes, metaphors, imagery, and occasionally magic has reminded better readers than i of urdu and of the ancient poetic tradition of islam here s an eloquent passage from manjul bajaj s lovely review in Outlo nadeem aslam is a treasure to the world and everyone should read him his writing is simply fantastic i think i liked the writing in The Wasted Vigil better, but probably one would like best the one one reads first the writing s fullness and ornatedness the riches of adjectives, similes, metaphors, imagery, and occasionally magic has reminded better readers than i of urdu and of the ancient poetic tradition of islam here s an eloquent passage from manjul bajaj s lovely review in Outlook India the review is excerpted on goodreads, where i found it Seeping out from beneath the grammar and syntax of his perfectly polished adopted tongue is the melancholy and ache of Urdu s vivid images and startling metaphors Moonlight, fireflies, flowering plants and trees, singing birds, the movement of the stars and the colour of the sky texture the narrative and act as subliminal triggers which create an emotional subtext connecting the reader to the beauty of Islam s poetic and artistic traditions light is a dominant theme the light of stars, of kerosene lamps the light of the dappled sun and of sun and moonlight reflected in water the light of fireflies often the lack of light, like when power is cut and generators don t work, or when someone goes blind and the light his eyes can still see isa tease that an aid this is present in Wasted Vigil too also representation, especially the sly representation of pentimento painting, a tool of survival in a world where extremist islamism makes images forbidden.then books, books everywhere, and nature flowers, plants, smells, tastes animals animals have a particular place in his extraordinary book, and here i ll say what makes it so extraordinary as manjul bajaj so beautifully and accurately says, the book is Aslam s prayer for the whole world, his attempt to bathe it in light but i think that aslam goes even farther than this i think that in his book he makes peace he creates it he imagines it and makes it happen all of his characters in this book, unlike in Wasted Vigil they are muslim except for one, the priest of the school where two of our protagonists teach are peace loving people who put humanity, decency, and compassion way ahead of their own safety, comfort, and lives the tremendous injury of the aftermath of the 9 11 attacks a whole country attacked for no reason at all, its people decimated, its cities and villages reduced to rubble, fundamentalism and rage stoked with the most powerful bellow of all is mourned deeply and shown clearly in the book, but there is no anger only a huge sorrow and the protagonists of the book, this motley host of sometimes weird and always beautiful characters put their bodies in the wound and heal it it s aslam s novel and he can do what he wants with it so he heals this unhealable wound he does it mainly through the unbelievably lovely character of mikal, whose love for animals and for peace, whose utter inability to be angry, whose putting peace ahead of desire and self, are poetry unto themselves to sayis to give away the book, but if you read this extraordinary work of art, pay attention to mikal all through the book and in particular in the second half pay attention to his carefulness with life all life to his tenderness to his earnestness to his incredible love.aslam uses a quote from simone weil at a crucial point in the book Love is not consolation, it is light i am not sure what weil meant when she wrote it i m not even sure what it means, in general but in this book this quote could not beappropriately placed and let me say, it is difficult to set a book in immediately post 9 11 afghanistan and not make it drip with rage i did occasionally feel rage you will too but aslam is SO NOT AFTER rage he bathes the world with light There are books that I can breeze through, not thinking much, just allowing myself to be entertained This is probably the majority of books for me Within 20 pages, I felt off kilter I soon realized The Blind Man s Garden was the OTHER kind of book, the book that demands your full attention and engages you fully Read.every.word.no.skimming The kind of book where you don t stop to feed yourself or answer the phone, where you just wander from bed, to couch, to chairoccasionally changing the There are books that I can breeze through, not thinking much, just allowing myself to be entertained This is probably the majority of books for me Within 20 pages, I felt off kilter I soon realized The Blind Man s Garden was the OTHER kind of book, the book that demands your full attention and engages you fully Read.every.word.no.skimming The kind of book where you don t stop to feed yourself or answer the phone, where you just wander from bed, to couch, to chairoccasionally changing the locale of your reading If I read a book like this every couple of years, I consider myself really lucky.Blind Man s Garden is set in post 9 11 Pakistan and Afghanistan It s the story of one family and their struggle to survive hardship and loss while maintaining their humanness If you re a Muslim hater, this book isn t for you, unless you re willing to take a look through the eyes of a different culture, someone not like you That being said, Blind Man s Garden isn t anti American or pro Muslim It portrays reality It shows atrocities committed by both sides rooted in fear of the enemy, the challenges of women once used to relative freedom now trying to contend with wearing their jewelry hidden under black robes, husbands afraid for their wives to leave the home, lest they be stopped by the religious police, the fear of angering a neighbor who might tell lies about you to the authorities I likened it to Nazi Germany with different trappings It shows that caught up in all the politics, there are everyday people, laughing with their husbands, hugging their children, eating meals togetherjust people It s not a political book, but a book about PEOPLE.If you read Khaled Hosseini s And the Mountains Echoed , and are feeling sad at the prospect of waiting 5 years for his next book, your wait is over This book is AT LEAST as well written, the storysmooth in my opinion It s beautifully written If you don t like descriptive writing, steer clear The author must be a gardener, because I smelled the orange blossoms, felt the bark of the henna trees, and saw the hedges of jasmine vine The bad thing is it s a library book and I have to return it The good thing is Nadeem Aslam has three other books for me to read Blind Man s Garden is just superb Really amazing I can t recommend it enough 10 stars When I finished reading Nadeem Aslam s MAPS FOR LOST LOVERS I felt as if I d lost a friend, so I downloaded THE BLIND MAN S GARDEN The prose is gorgeous in both books, but less dense here and I prefer that THE BLIND MAN S GARDEN is the story of the war in Afghanistan as viewed by a cultured, middle class family in Pakistan We meet all sides, the medical student son who just wants to take care of the wounded The young wife he leaves behind, his father, a good, decent man whose religion means When I finished reading Nadeem Aslam s MAPS FOR LOST LOVERS I felt as if I d lost a friend, so I downloaded THE BLIND MAN S GARDEN The prose is gorgeous in both books, but less dense here and I prefer that THE BLIND MAN S GARDEN is the story of the war in Afghanistan as viewed by a cultured, middle class family in Pakistan We meet all sides, the medical student son who just wants to take care of the wounded The young wife he leaves behind, his father, a good, decent man whose religion means everything to him Jihadists who use their religion as an excuse to torture and kill War lords who sell innocent boys to the Americans as jihadists for 500 The Americans who take care of their prisoners even as they torture them I was gripped by what was happening to these poor people until in the last 50 pages Mikal, the clever character, does something so irredeemably stupid and travels around the countryside without a plan I understood the structural reason for it, but didn t believe that clever character would do that If anyone reading this has read the book, please let me know what you think I read this book because I ll be on a panel at Singapore Writer s Festival with this prize winning author.It s another of those fraught narratives about Afghanistan I don t think I would have finished the book if not for feeling duty bound to do so because of the panel.Like Khaled Hosseini s A Thousand Splendid Suns, Aslam offers us a very well drawn view of a society and mind set that many of us wouldn t otherwise get to experience My problem was that the writing was too good and made me feel I read this book because I ll be on a panel at Singapore Writer s Festival with this prize winning author.It s another of those fraught narratives about Afghanistan I don t think I would have finished the book if not for feeling duty bound to do so because of the panel.Like Khaled Hosseini s A Thousand Splendid Suns, Aslam offers us a very well drawn view of a society and mind set that many of us wouldn t otherwise get to experience My problem was that the writing was too good and made me feel too intensely the constraints of those living in that society My head literally felt blinkered by the Blind Man s religious philosophy As for the constraints the women had to live with, well Nosaid.This book highlights what a gulf there is between those of us accustomed to having a liberal Western mindset and those of other persuasions A particularly telling vignette is the shock and horror experienced by Afghan villagers confronted with a stray American soldier who has the words Infidel defiantly tattoed on himself For me, this was the tiny piece of glass that magnified the reality of our current politics How some countries send their sons into harms way with no knowledge of the causes they re fighting for and the people they re fighting against, to lose their wars in conflicts no one can win.I was depressed and tired when I finished the book.I guess that s a mark of great writing, that we re made to identify with the characters and their fates remain in our heads and hearts long after we re done with the page I already knew that Aslam is a remarkable storyteller but I was unprepared for the ranges of emotions his elegant lyrical prose will evoke within me from page one until the very last page Story takes place in Pakistan and Afghanistan right after 9 11, when emotions, outrage, rumors, the need for answers were high The Blind Man s Garden deftly handles the themes of ordinary people surviving in a world where power and control are continually shifting yet life has to one with grace and intelligen I already knew that Aslam is a remarkable storyteller but I was unprepared for the ranges of emotions his elegant lyrical prose will evoke within me from page one until the very last page Story takes place in Pakistan and Afghanistan right after 9 11, when emotions, outrage, rumors, the need for answers were high The Blind Man s Garden deftly handles the themes of ordinary people surviving in a world where power and control are continually shifting yet life has to one with grace and intelligence Juxtaposing the beauty of nature against the pain of human actions is beautifully written But, it is the characters that make this story soar and will haunt you after the last page is turned The range of characters each with their own story as they struggle with balancing their inward beliefs with the outward world is riveting and heartbreaking A haunting tale of the impact of the American reaction to 9 11 told through the stories of two young Pakistani men who go to Afghanistan with the naive idea of working in a medical centre They are handed over to the Taliban who plan to use them as new fighters Their stories are alternated with their families back in their small home town and in the nearby city of Peshawa.To be in this region is dangerously ambiguous with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, warlords, American special forces, Pakistani Secre A haunting tale of the impact of the American reaction to 9 11 told through the stories of two young Pakistani men who go to Afghanistan with the naive idea of working in a medical centre They are handed over to the Taliban who plan to use them as new fighters Their stories are alternated with their families back in their small home town and in the nearby city of Peshawa.To be in this region is dangerously ambiguous with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, warlords, American special forces, Pakistani Secret Service and the innocent Enemies could be anyone and anywhere with many changing sides depending on who has the money Nothing is simple and no one is safe.It is a fascinating read, there is a love story, some poetic language and imagery mixed with brutality and humanity This is a complex book, filled with complex emotions Nuanced doesn t come close to describing its portrayal of fundamentalist Islamist fervour and the various forces and interpretations within Islam that in many ways define it, and also attempt to balance it ultimately ineffectually not sure , but in the end, must simply survive it.The same nuance and complexity emerge with respect to the use of torture, the oppression of women, or just about any other issue raised in this novel of post 9 1 This is a complex book, filled with complex emotions Nuanced doesn t come close to describing its portrayal of fundamentalist Islamist fervour and the various forces and interpretations within Islam that in many ways define it, and also attempt to balance it ultimately ineffectually not sure , but in the end, must simply survive it.The same nuance and complexity emerge with respect to the use of torture, the oppression of women, or just about any other issue raised in this novel of post 9 11 Pakistan Afghanistan, seen through the eyes of a constellation of characters who must navigate, often blindly, and both literally and figuratively , through the inherent conflicts of their own beliefs, relationships, and realities in the world around them.A central conundrum the prevailing dynamic is the clash of religions and,broadly, cultures which both cause the conflicts, and ultimately also provide the only tools to endure, if not resolve, them This book forced me to confront a lot of my own assumptions, emotions and attitudes and I m left holding these thoughts in each of my hands and different parts of my brain, irreconcilable At the same time, as jo points out in her exceptional review, although there is much that is disquieting and even rage inducing, there is also the intense beauty of the writing and imagery, and especially, the Mikal character s unswerving goodness and sense of justice This book is sometimes overwhelming, always challenging, and probably not for everyone It is a test of tolerance and empathy, in many ways The beauty of the writing, the power of the imagery, the essential force of goodness that drives again, literally and figuratively the action in the character of Mikal, is the reason I ve given it five stars `DOWNLOAD EBOOK ⇥ The Blind Man's Garden ⇢ The acclaimed author of The Wasted Vigil now gives us a searing, exquisitely written novel set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following a story of war, of one family s losses, and of the simplest, most enduring human impulses Jeo and Mikal are foster brothers from a small town in Pakistan Though they were inseparable as children, their adult lives have diverged Jeo is a dedicated medical student, married a year Mikal has been a vagabond since he was fifteen, in love with a woman he can t have But when Jeo decides to sneak across the border into Afghanistan not to fight with the Taliban against the Americans, rather to help care for wounded civilians Mikal determines to go with him, to protect him Yet Jeo s and Mikal s good intentions cannot keep them out of harm s way As the narrative takes us from the wilds of Afghanistan to the heart of the family left behind their blind father, haunted by the death of his wife and by the mistakes he may have made in the name of Islam and nationhood Mikal s beloved brother and sister in law Jeo s wife, whose increasing resolve helps keep the household running, and her superstitious mother we see all of these lives upended by the turmoil of war In language as lyrical as it is piercing, in scenes at once beautiful and harrowing, The Blind Man s Garden unflinchingly describes a crucially contemporary yet timeless world in which the line between enemy and ally is indistinct, and where the desire to return home burns brightest of all