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The Wasted Vigil [Kindle Edition]

Nadeem Aslam
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

'This land and its killing epochs.'

Nadeem Aslam's dazzling new novel takes place in modern-day Afghanistan. A Russian woman named Lara arrives at the house of Marcus Caldwell, an Englishman and widower living in an old perfume factory in the shadow of the Tora Bora mountains. It is possible that Marcus's daughter, Zameen, may have known Lara's brother, a Soviet soldier who disappeared in the area many years previously. But like Marcus's wife, Zameen is dead; a victim of the age in which she was born.

In the days that follow, further people will arrive at the house: David Town and James Palantine, two Americans who have spent much of their adult lives in the area, for their respective reasons; Dunia, a young Afghan teacher; and Casa, a radicalised young man intent on his own path.

The stories and histories that unfold - interweaving and overlapping, and spanning nearly a quarter of a century - tell of the terrible afflictions that have plagued Afghanistan. A work of deepest humanity, The Wasted Vigil offers a timely portrait of this region, of love during war and conflict. At once angry, unflinching and memorably beautiful, it marks Nadeem Aslam as a world writer of major importance.

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'Ambitious and luminous ... The Wasted Vigil reminds us that fiction can do things that mere reportage can't ... Aslam does not simply appropriate a few headlines for easy currency. He has immersed himself in a country and a culture.' -- Peter Parker, Sunday Times

'In this sprawling epic of a novel, Nadeem Aslam's poetic narrative takes in the explosive realities of Afghanistan. He navigates this minefield with sharp reflexes and a rare poise ... [It] will be read as a novel about Afghanistan, but it should be read as a book about love.' -- Mohammed Hanif, The Independent

'Spellbinding - a beautifully drawn web of the fragile connections of trust, misunderstanding, memory, sacrifice, and, against the odds, love, that people who have lost everything else in the deadly stupidity of war must live and die by. Nadeem Aslam is a master of words and arresting images.'
-- Vanora Bennett, The Times

'[Aslam] confirms he is a writer of singular genius ... Beautiful, harrowing and fired with a compelling sense of horror, The Wasted Vigil is remarkable ... the quest novel we should - no, must - all read.' -- Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times


'[Aslam] confirms he is a writer of singular genius ... Beautiful, harrowing and fired with a compelling sense of horror, The Wasted Vigil is remarkable ... the quest novel we should - no, must - all read.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1497 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction; Main edition (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571238777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571238774
  • ASIN: B002RI9ZS6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,436 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and horrible 24 Aug. 2009
The beauty of this book depends on the landscapes and works of arts painted with words of utmost skill. The horror of this book is the history of recent decades in Afghanistan, told through several stories, representing all parties that put their fingers into the meager pie there - with good or evil intentions, but with equally tragic consequences. As a novel, it is amazing. As a message, it is terrifying in that it leaves no hope for the future. It seems that all that was beautiful will vanish sooner or later, and even the beauty of some characters has been created by the author as an embellishment, to be admired, but not to be believed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 24 Sept. 2009
This is one of the most gut wrenchingly powerful novels I've ever read. Some passages were so affecting I had to look away from the page for a while. I haven't read any of this author's work before, and I'm so glad to have discovered him.

The Wasted Vigil really is fiction at its very best. A complex story weaving together the tales of a rich cast of characters. A setting so vividly described you can see, smell and hear it. The emotion behind the writing is strong, the writing itself is lyrical without being overwrought.

I can't praise this book enough. It's the best novel I've read in years, and it's one that I'll think about for a long, long time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A. Hope
This is a beautifully written, complex novel, that using memory, and some truly beautiful imagery weaves a tale of Afghanistan that is really quite unforgettable. Often sad and brutal, the story of Marcus Caldwell - who lives in an old perfume fctory - and the people who arrive at his house sometimes makes the reader want to look away, and yet you read on, for the stories are compelling. We have Lara, the Russian woman searcing for her brother who went missing during the Afghan Soviet war,and the American's David, and James, the young Afghan teacher, and a young man who has been trained by Al-Qaeda. We are used to hearing about Afghanistan these days, we have all seen the news, many of us have read "The Kite Runner" "A thousand Splendid Suns" and "The bookseller of Kabul" but if you only ever read one book about Afghanistan, then this should be the one. There are no clear lines in this novel, no definite "goodies" or "badies" what we have instead are simple human beings, affected by the various wars that Afghanistan has endured, sometimes these people do bad things, sometimes good things and sometimes these people suffer horribly, and there are reasons why the bad things happen and people suffer, although utlimately while understanding that, it leaves a rather bitter taste, because there is no real feeling of hope for the future. Unforgettable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I found Nadeem Aslam's 2008 novel astonishing. Not just because of the information that it provides about everyday life and death in Afghanistan, a subject that has not been far from the headlines over the last decade or so.

The author recounts a complex story revolving around three people, Marcus, Lara and David, who have each suffered through their connection to Afghanistan. Marcus Caldwell, an elderly English doctor now living alone in Tora Bora, has lost his Afghan wife (another doctor) and daughter, Qatrina and Zameen, to violence. Lara. a Russian, arrives at his house in searching for her brother, Benedikt, who deserted from the Soviet army in the 1980s. David is a jewel dealer who knows the country, has contacts and, having lost his brother in Vietnam, is unremittingly anti-Communist.

The author slowly reveals the background of these people, everyday life in the country in Usha, near Jalalabad, its countryside, the abandoned underground perfume factory with a huge buried Buddha's head, a lake, minefields, mortared roofs and walls damaged by shells and bullets. Other characters are drawn in, Dunia, a local teacher being forced from her job by the Taleban and Casa, an orphaned jihadi, whose training in Kashmir removed any independent thought but left a quietness that merely heightens his blinkered depravity and twisted ideology.

Marcus' Islamic calligraphy decorated (or desecrated as the Taleban see it) with animals and he is duly punished by having his left hand amputated. This must be done by a doctor to avoid the victim bleeding to death and Qatrina is ordered to officiate. The couple were married by a woman as this was not forbidden by the Koran; many years later the Taleban punish her for adultery.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than its cover... 17 Aug. 2009
This book is stunning and brutal in equal measure. Rarely have I read a book that has presented such a desperately sad outlook for its main characters, yet has continued to keep me gripped until the very end. Afghanistan's tragic history manifests itself in the lives of the central protagonists - some only present in the memories of those still living, others symbolising a future that is by no means more hopeful than the past.

It's a luminous, poetic narrative, but a strong enough story to keep me turning the pages in anticipation of what might happen next. I rate this alongside the Kite Runner - and well ahead of A Thousand Splendid Suns.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully written
Published 1 month ago by EJG
4.0 out of 5 stars Topical and relevant.
Brutal but sensitive and descriptive account of life and events leading to current state of politics and life in Afghanistan. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fifi60
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
But not as gripping as A Map for Lost Lovers but still a pageturner and an easy way to get acquainted with Afghanistan's recent history.
Published 13 months ago by Esther Velthoen
4.0 out of 5 stars great read plenty to think about
thourghtful potrail of a brutal conflict. brutaliy on all sides set against the teachings of the interpretation of religous culture & teaching and personal morality.
Published 15 months ago by M K WARD
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful & Disturbing
A very profound book, which strips away the carapace we create when considering our feelings towards the atrocity of terrorist conflict.
Published 16 months ago by Liz T.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
This is an amazing book. it is beautifully written and it puts into perspective all the different battles there have been in Afghanistan over the years. Read more
Published 21 months ago by L. Kruse
1.0 out of 5 stars Forced to buy and read this for a lit class
Eastern perfumes, exotic flora, ancient manuscripts, gigantic statues, extinct nightingales, dark haired women, all mixed in with mutilations, wife-killing mullahs, beheading,... Read more
Published on 10 July 2013 by bajaninthesun
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Afghanistan observers - and anyone else!
Now a total fan of Nadeem Aslam. Yhis novel got under the skin of American intervention in Afghanistan, and the contradictions (and sometimes horrors it produced alongside the... Read more
Published on 1 May 2013 by Richard Cogan / Heike Wessels
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!
I read this book myself and was hugely moved by the subject matter and the quality of writing. I'm now in the process of buying it for all my friends - birthdays, christmas, just... Read more
Published on 21 July 2012 by muffytel
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wasted Vigil - Interesting themes for our times
A book that has a range of themes; evil, obsession, envy, hatred, violence, desire, love and patience among them. Read more
Published on 31 Aug. 2010 by Trisha11
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