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Maps for Lost Lovers [Kindle Edition]

Nadeem Aslam
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

In an unnamed town Jugnu and his lover Chanda have disappeared. Rumours abound in the close-knit Pakistani community, and then on a snow-covered January morning Chanda's brothers are arrested for murder. Telling the story of the next twelve months, Maps for Lost Lovers opens the heart of a family at the crossroads of culture, community, nationality and religion, and expresses their pain in a language that is arrestingly poetic.

'This is a deeply pastoral novel, tied to the seasons and resonating with birdsong . . . Like Aslam, I was heartbroken when the dense, dark tapestry was finished.' Independent on Sunday

'Despite the violence that lies at the heart of the novel, it is a celebration of love and life. Sights and sounds, smells and colours are not so much vivid backdrops for the narrative as structural, mood- and texture-enhancing parts of it . . . This is that rare sort of book that gives a voice to those voices that are seldom heard.' Observer


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Amazon.co.uk Review

Maps for Lost Lovers is a stunningly brave and searingly brutal novel charting a year in the life of a working class community from the subcontinent--a group described by author Nadeem Aslam as "Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Sri Lankans living in a northern town". The older residents, who have left their homelands for the riches of England, have communally dubbed it Dasht-e-Tanhaii, which roughly translates as "the wilderness of solitude" or "the desert of loneliness". As the seasons change, from the first crystal flakes of snow that melt into "a monsoon raindrop", we slowly learn the fate of Jugnu and Chanda, a couple whose disappearance is rumoured to have been a result of their fatal decision to live in sin in a community where the phrase holds true meaning.

This uncompromisingly honest--and often uncomfortable to read--story is told through the eyes of Jugnu's brother's family who live next door. Shamas is director of the local Community Relations Council; a liberal, educated man he still mourns the passing of communism and yearns for passion in his later years. His wife Kaukub, daughter of a Pakistani cleric, is also in mourning for the passing of her devout Muslim upbringing and is forced to watch her three children turn "native". She tries increasingly desperate measures to turn them back to Islam. Pakistani-born Nadeem Aslam skilfully intertwines myths and legends with a harsh, modern reality. Tragic sub-plots of Romeo-and-Juliet proportions abound. And while some of the extended descriptive passages sit uneasily on the page and, towards the end, several rants against Islam forced through the mouths of characters become thinly-veiled lectures, nevertheless Maps for Lost Lovers is an epic work and an important milestone in British literature that deserves to be widely read by all multicultural societies seeking mutual tolerance and understanding. --Carey Green

Amazon Review

Maps for Lost Lovers is a stunningly brave and searingly brutal novel charting a year in the life of a working class community from the subcontinent--a group described by author Nadeem Aslam as "Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Sri Lankans living in a northern town". The older residents, who have left their homelands for the riches of England, have communally dubbed it Dasht-e-Tanhaii, which roughly translates as "the wilderness of solitude" or "the desert of loneliness". As the seasons change, from the first crystal flakes of snow that melt into "a monsoon raindrop", we slowly learn the fate of Jugnu and Chanda, a couple whose disappearance is rumoured to have been a result of their fatal decision to live in sin in a community where the phrase holds true meaning.

This uncompromisingly honest--and often uncomfortable to read--story is told through the eyes of Jugnu's brother's family who live next door. Shamas is director of the local Community Relations Council; a liberal, educated man he still mourns the passing of communism and yearns for passion in his later years. His wife Kaukub, daughter of a Pakistani cleric, is also in mourning for the passing of her devout Muslim upbringing and is forced to watch her three children turn "native". She tries increasingly desperate measures to turn them back to Islam. Pakistani-born Nadeem Aslam skilfully intertwines myths and legends with a harsh, modern reality. Tragic sub-plots of Romeo-and-Juliet proportions abound. And while some of the extended descriptive passages sit uneasily on the page and, towards the end, several rants against Islam forced through the mouths of characters become thinly-veiled lectures, nevertheless Maps for Lost Lovers is an epic work and an important milestone in British literature that deserves to be widely read by all multicultural societies seeking mutual tolerance and understanding. --Carey Green


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
o, after reading the book all through the night, literally, (I went to bed at 6.30 a.m.!) I finally finished this masterpiece. It was a mixed feeling because the book was so beautiful, the characters so real, the experiences of the protagonists finding so many echoes in my own life (and I'm sure in that of most British Pakistanis whether first, second or third generation), the prose so ravishing that I didn't really want it to end.

Initially, I started this book last year but it is not an easy book to read, the writing is so detailed, descriptive, ornate and choc-a-bloc full of metaphor after metaphor, simile upon simile, that one is forced to take one's time. At that time last year, I was too mentally tired and busy to make the effort required. This time though, I put my other reading on hold and gave the book my undivided attention. I'm glad I did! The language of the book is so luscious, so beautiful, that for afficianados of prose style it alone is sufficient reason to read it. If we then add to it an interesting, realistic, so-contemporary-relevant, central plot, wonderfully realised main characters, and a great gift for putting images on the page, this book becomes a must-read. The central plot follows the lives of a family of Pakistanis in a Northern England town for a year after the main protagonist's brother and his lover are murdered by the girl's brothers out of 'honour'. The two main characters around whom the novel revolves are Shamas, a libertine, cultural-only Muslim, secretly a Communist, and his deeply pious, conservative, wife, Kaukab, the matriarch and daughter of a cleric.

Aslam has really succeeded in portraying the lives, dreams, and fears of immigrant Pakistanis in the UK. That he does it with magical prose is icing on the cake.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book 17 Dec. 2004
Format:Hardcover
This book is so good that i would probably rate it as one of the best if not THE best book i have ever read. It follows the life of Shamas and Kaukab and how they deal with the mysterious disappearance of Shamas' brother Jugnu and Chanda. The book is so beautifully written and the author delves deep in creating the atmosphere and characters. He does so with such detail that you become immersed into his world. Each character is so real and the author takes parts of their lives and interweaves it into the main story in such a way that u don't get sidetracked or lose interest but it enhances the main plot.
The other main reason for loving this book is that it covers so many subjects that we as, british pakistanis/muslims face but don't talk about. But the author handles each topic with such sensitivity that u feel that u immediately relate. Thank you Mr Aslam for being brave enough to question and expose the truth of so many issues that are in each of our minds but are too timid to face.
In al, a fabulous book and i can't wait for the next one
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite novel with an engaging plot... 27 April 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A gorgeous poem of a novel with a strong narrative and complex, intriguingcharacterisation. While it may take a little time to get into the storybecause of the rather dreamy meditative opening, once in you'll begripped. It begins with the disappearance of two transgressing lovers ina small Asian immigrant community in England (were they murdered in an'honour killing'? or did they run away from a disapproving society?) andspirals out to look at the impact this has on the people left behind,primarily Shamas the romantic, idealistic patriarch of the central familyand his traditionalist Muslim wife Kaukab, a hidebound cleric's daughter. Aslam has a great description of their profoundly different, yet in theireffect, similar outlooks: Kaukab was 'too busy longing for the world andtime her grandparents came from and he too busy daydreaming about theworld and time his grandchildren were to inherit. Those around her wereless important to her than those buried under her feet and for him theimportant ones were those hovering over his head - those yet to be born'
At turns funny (the retort of a Muslim woman to a Hindu speculating onbirth defects produced by an 'incestuous' marriage between two cousinssprings to mind... she suggests that the critic look at her own gods whohave 'eyes in the middle of their foreheads and what about those six armedgoddesses that were more Swiss Army knives than deities?') and tragicthis is a remarkable novel which deserves to be widely read and enjoyed.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Flag of a Deeper Colour 8 Sept. 2004
Format:Hardcover
Maps for Lost Lovers takes place in 1997 and is set over the course of a year in an unnamed community in England with a large Muslim population. It's primary focus is a married couple, Shamas, a non-believer and Kaukab, his pious wife. There are many mysteries threaded throughout this beautifully written novel, but the central one focuses on the disappearance of Shamas' brother Jugnu and the woman he was living with, Chanda. The two were not married and therefore were perceived to be living in a state of sin according to Muslim belief. Chanda's two brothers have been accused of murdering the couple. Over the course of the year, the trial over their suspected murder unfolds and many hidden secrets of the community are brought to light. It's a story of great suspense, giving precious insight into a very closed community that is struggling to maintain the beliefs of the country they left and the religion which is in many ways antithetical to modern English life.
It took Aslam over ten years to write this novel, working largely in solitude and subsisting on a very humble income. The beautifully wrought passages attest to the concentrated labour used to create them and the vast amount of time he spent with these characters shows in the penetrating insight he gives to their individual minds and hearts. The lyrical style of the novel which uses metaphor upon metaphor might at first be a distraction to the reader. However, this persistent way of likening one thing to another reflects the attitudes of people in this community who persistently compare things in England to their home country. It's a device by the author to show how they are in some ways unable to see things in England as they really are.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it , this is a beautiful book!
I nearly gave up on this book because I found the first few chapters difficult. The writing is very poetic and perhaps over full of similes, everything described is likened to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by linda downs
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my usual choice
Found this book hard going
Published 2 months ago by B. P. Noel
5.0 out of 5 stars purchased as recommended by Christopher Hitchens so couldn't go wrong
purchased as recommended by Christopher Hitchens so couldn't go wrong. Brilliant book sensitive and disturbing. My best book of the year.
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Roger Holloway
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 4 months ago by Chris H
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended
A brilliant read with illuminating insights into the Pakistani community
in England.
Published 5 months ago by Peter Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars The clash between old and new
This book is a real gem, written with such prose and lucidity, scrupulous detailing of the settings and a storyline hard to break from, Nadeem has really produced something unique... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Khan
5.0 out of 5 stars It has some very interesting and deep insight into the ...
It has some very interesting and deep insight into the lives of British Muslims - Nadeem Aslam should be asked to bring these pieces to Coronation Street and it will make it very... Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. N. Saleem
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
enjoyed this enormously but found the situations pretty hard to understand in this day and age. a very good holiday read
Published 15 months ago by margie
4.0 out of 5 stars Overly-polished writing derails a powerful story
This novel, the author's second, took more than 11 years to complete, won the 2005 Kiriyama Prize and was also long-listed for the preceding year's Booker Prize. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dr R
5.0 out of 5 stars Painful and beautiful
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. There is the constant tension between the beauty of the writing and the extraordinary pain of the central event... Read more
Published 21 months ago by judith
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