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The Wasted VigilAs I was reading this novel I was thinking of the recent sychological breakthrough distributed around of the recent sychological breakthrough distributed around internet that reading novels increases empathy I was also thinking of a sociology undergraduate class I helped teach several years ago that asked the students to analyze attitudes beliefs and facts about the US War on Terror The books we assigned were heavy for undergrads Blow Back by Chalmers Johnson Blood and Oil by Michael Klare The Occupation by Patrick Cockburn Tinderbox by Stephen Zune Dying to Win by Robert Pape Bin Laden Islam and America s New War on Terrorism by As ad AbuKhalil this one had one of our students detained As ad AbuKhalil this one had one of our students detained LAX when she took it on the lane to do her homework War and Peace in the Middle East by Avi Shlaim Our students who had self selected into the course knowing its This Beats Working for a Living: The Dark Secrets of a College Professor political framework completed the course with a treasure chest of knowledge and argumentative strategies forushing back on the dominant We'll Make It Through paradigm But they would have also learned so much on an additional level by reading The Wasted Vigil Perhaps with nuance and complexity and definitely empathy Nadeem Aslam is so specifically adept at building nuance and empathy within what has become a bioppositional approach to understanding fundamentalism I appreciate it here as I did in Maps for Lost Lovers An emotional investment to read for certain but the internet doesroclaim that making such investments is a good idea so it must be true One of the most remarkable books I ve ever read It is both deeply The Silent Earth: The Complete Trilogy poetic andainfully violent sympathetic and tragic enlightening and maddening The FEEL of it remains with me still I was amazed at how well the author created sympathy for characters with conflicting erspectives enabling the reader to understand why each felt justified in his osition while showing with the most subtle irony just how tragic their conflict is how unknowingly entwined they all are like the whole of humanity characters represent a range of cultures The clues are small and easily missed it is a book that needs to be carefully read And while the The Age of Apollyon plotaction carries the reader through uiteowerfully there s also a oetic almost dreamy uality to the writing One of the settings a house beside a tranuil lake is almost another character in itself Those who live there struggle to maintain an oasis of tolerance amid the surrounding violence against what seems an insurmountable tide All too relevant to our current olitical and religious conflicts as well as very beautifully and masterfully written This is among the few things that can be said about love with any confidence It is small enough to be contained within the heart but Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples pulled thin it would drape the entire world The Wasted Vigil is the type of book I felt blown away by while reading even though two months down the line not only will I not remember why I was so Nadeem Aslam s writing style had grated on my nerves when I read his bookMaps for Lost Lovers But I already had The Wasted Vigil with meso I tried to read it tooAgaintherose was almost ainful to readConsider this assage The grandson of a watchsmithhe appeals for leniency from the god who decrees the The Lost Masters: Grace and Disgrace in '68 point of no returnThe moment when the arrow leaves the bowthe moment whenoetic inspiration beginsOr another one The The National Debt: A Short History pomegrenate was on a tableShe slit it open nowThe outer layer of scarlet seeds had been warmed by the flamesThe temperature of menstrual blood just emerged from a man s bodyPassages like thisof which there is no shortage in this bookgave me a headacheI kept rolling my eyesTheublisher describes such Rites, Rights and Rhythms: A Genealogy of Musical Meaning in Colombia's Black Pacific prose as luminous or radiantFor meit s justretentious drivelAdd to that the fact that the subject matter is retty bleakIt is after allabout Afghanistan s ancient and modern historya country known for little else but war and turmoilThe reader is treated to an amputation and a stoning and "Plenty Of Violenceheading Towards An Unhappy EndingThere Are Writers Like "of violenceheading towards an unhappy endingThere are writers like Hosseini and Nadia Hashimi who can write spell binding tales set amidst Afghanistan s turmoilI d read them any day over this ainful bookAbandoned Verdict mixed feelings Let me sort them outA The rinciple If we did not want a story with some and erhaps lots of generosity towards those we call enemy then we coul. The author of Maps for Lost Lovers gives us a new novel at once lyrical and blistering about war in our time told through the lives of five eople who come together in ost 911 AfghanistanMarcus an English doctor whose rogressive outspoken Afghani wife was murdered by the Taliban opens his home itself an eerily beautiful monument to his losses to the others Lara from St Petersburg looking for evidence of her.

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D all settle for W s version of current world events we are good they are evil or childish uneducated uncivilized natives and they are motivated to destroy us because they envy us "our goodness So what I want from a novel is to help me understand the inner "goodness So what I want from a novel is to help me understand the inner and outer actions of someone who I cannot seem to understand Thus one test of a novel is how well the author is able to The Hiding Place provide a kind of narrative generosity towards antagonists This will be my testB The good newsI found this novel thoughtful important and I canrobably use it for my Afghanistan class If Kite Runner is like fast food then this is a multi course meal made from scratch served over a long evening with dear friends Really there is no comparison between the two Nadeem Aslam is in a different class his ambitions are great but robably beyond his current reachThis is the best novel I have read on ost soviet invasion Afghanistan Although I do not think it is as owerful as two non fiction books Zinky Boys and Unexpected Light Even Zinky Boys and Unexpected Light do not have the one element that I think makes this book so worthwhile an extended treatment of the Talibani mind element that I think makes this book so worthwhile an extended treatment of the Talibani mind One of the main characters is an orphan who has trained as a Taliban and whose mind and heart Aslam robes as an omniscient narrator For me Aslam s really fails to The Elephants Journey provide Casa with a tangible and fuller biography Nevertheles the almost complete absence by any writer in any genre to treat the Taliban as of this earth asroducts of world history makes Aslam s effort very impressiveAnother main character is a Russian Lara whose searches for the whereabouts or remains of her brother a Soviet soldier Lara allows Aslam to ground his history back to the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan 1979 1988 Our world dominated as it is by the lone super Sklaven für Wutawia + Gauner mit der 'Goldenen Hand' power is one in which the only thing that seems to matter is what happened just before and after 9112001 in NYC Not only Lara but also the British character Marcus allow Aslam to extend backast 91101 and thereby weave a longer and thicker history The CIA and US special forces are there in the form of two US characters David and James The long dialogues that occur near the end of the book between various combinations of Lara David Marcus David and James are really the heart of the book for me In these dialogues Aslam is able to earn his way to a few beautiful and laser like sentences It is to his credit that Aslam takes his time to deliver some simple truths uttered by his characters When the words come out they do so with great rofoundness Aslam s timing is recise because has given his readers the full back stories of each main character and helped his readers to understood the full stakes that each character has in the dramatic and tragic events that unfold There are astoundingly beautiful sentences here even if I also think that as a young writer Aslam has yet to understand how to simplify language to achieve full effect Too often the historical the literary and religious references while giving the book a certain depth and resonance get in the way of the narrative and in the way of the greater Changing Face of the Hero purposes of the book C The bad newsWhile Pushtoons Afghanistan and the Taliban get a voice here I don t think that this voice is as generous as it needs to be Onage 319 Aslam writes Pull a thread here and you ll find that it s attached to the rest of the world I am convinced that this idea an idea that is less about threads or connections and about a thinker swriter s generosity explains why it took him 8 years to write this book I have heard that he wrote book length biographies of each of his main characters He wanted to give each of them a history a context a motivation that drives their uest His thorough construction of characters allows him to raise a The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time: A Collection of Poetry point on oneage and then to wait a hundred ages to raise it again So intricately woven together are his threads His main characters Marcus Lara David and Zameen a Brit a Russian a USer and a mix of Brit and Afghan each have this multifaceted density Another set of characters are given some robustness but they are not as tightly spun These include atrina Dunia and Casa all Afghans Two characters are woven in to the story but have nearly no threads to which. 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 lunges him into the depths of zealotry; and James the Special Forces soldier in whom David sees a dangerous revival of the unuestioning notions of right and wrong that he. They are attached to the rest of the world These are the two Afghan warlords Gul Rasool and Nabi Khan leaders of their familyclan who have been enemies for than 50 years and who serve as the shorthand for W s evil in this book Aslam in my reading is able to generate extraordinary generosity for Marcus Lara David and Zameen some for atrina Dunia Casa and James and almost nothing for Gul Rasool and Nabi Khan In the Kite Runner Hosseini inability to un knot the Taliban make the Taliban character a bedrock a dead end of the analysis So also here Aslam s inability to rovide a meaningful and generous story to the motivations s inability to rovide a meaningful and generous story to the motivations Gul Rasool and Nabi Khan turn characters into caricatures Their lives are bed rocked dead ended and not attached to the rest of the world Much to his credit Aslam tries to give their deadly feuding a context but this effort feels utterly strained to me and comes across as an afterthoughtThere are other Lignin Biodegradation problems with the book For example 1 I found some of his literary and historical references to be a littleretentious and I therefore allowed myself to glaze over such Pure Chance passages 2 There are some ratherronounced The Lady and the Lionheart plotroblems near the end of the book having to do with how Casa rejoins the original lan 3 The starched and unconvincing words that Aslam uts in James s mouth at the end of the book 4 Most of the graphic violence is at the hands of Afghans These scenes are depicted with visceral concrete detail whereas the violence of the Soviets and the USA is made abstract via lane bombings The bombings are conveyed with large sweeping brushstroke they cannot and do not move the reader in the same manner 5 All the major non Afghan characters but none of the major Afghan characters are adults wisdom often flows from Marcus and sometimes from Lara but never from an Afghan character Aslam s selection of the wise uietly tells us about how he regards his fellow south Asians than his erudite forays into the history oetry and culture of these lands But these Schilder's Struggle for the Unity of the Church problems areerhaps minor fixable and easily forgivable given the vast ambition of the tableau The central A (kinda) Country Christmas problem is in my view an unwillingness or an inability ultimately to act upon the wisdom that Aslam s writing reveals he is not able to show that when weull a threadit is "attached to rest of the world As I said Gul Rasool and Nabi Khan "to the rest of the world As I said Gul Rasool and Nabi Khan thread endsD Anticipating the criticismIf generosity to antagonists is a rinciple by which we can evaluate a world view or a novel then at one end of the continuum we have W s view of the world a view that is lain simple and sharp but utterly vapid The message here is We are of this world and they are not Further towards the ole of generosity but still too close to W s view is Hosseini s Kite Runner Closer to the ole of generosity but still not near enough is this novel by Aslam If this novel leaves me wanting can I National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020 provide an example of something with greater generosity one in which all the threads are connected to each other and the rest of the world I would offer Isabel Allende s House of Spirits as an example The antagonist is theatriarch Esteban Trueba He is given a full story and is thoroughly motivated as a fully rounded human being Allende never ulls her unches as she describes how Trueba destroys the lives of the Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism peasants he treats as no than slaves and servants And yet we come to know Trueba well we are allowed to empathize with his arrogance with the manner of his self deception with theower he feels as he sueezes out the lives of other human beings and with the Gods and fighting men: the story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory potential justification for his beliefs Indeed so great is Allende s desire to give eual time to the man she is trying to un knot that in variousarts of the book Trueba erupts into Allende s novel to tell the story in his own voice Allende submits to the Trueba within her and allows him his own tone words and voice I think of this as full generosity to the antagonist and the standard that has to be met for a great novel It is not the only standard but without this uality fiction in my view does not live up to its greater urposeHere are some other novels that I think live up to this standardBridge on the DrinaSorrow of WarMilagro Beanfield WarCities of SaltThe PickupSeason of Migration to the North. Himself once heldIn mesmerizing rose Nadeem Aslam reveals the complex ties of love and desperation ain and salvation madness and clarity that bind the characters And through their stories he creates a timely and achingly intimate ortrait 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 ficti.