The Blind Man’s Garden (Aslam)

I came upon this one by accident – a search for something to give me more of a feel for Pakistan. And it is almost midnight as I write this, and I cannot sleep because the book and its characters and its moments and its images are reverberating within me. Though it is simple, it is nonetheless true: I have never read anything like this. I truly felt, as a reader, like a stranger in a strange land, not understanding the geography of anything, not houses, not the connection between Pakistan and Afghanistan, nothing. There are no angels here. The book is brutal. It has to be. The war between American and Taliban forces invades everyone and everything in this book, and Aslan does not shy away from any of it. But he manages to convey, from the garden of the title outward, the beauty of the land of the human beings (they are more than characters) who inhabit his book. Because of the violence, I had to digest this one in small bites, but Aslan massages languages in ways I have not encountered before, no more so than in the scene in which the man of the title becomes blind. Just breathtaking. I will be devouring his other books soon.

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