Maps for Lost Lovers Hardcover – 24 Jun 2004
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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
Praise from the U.K. for Nadeem Aslam's "Maps for Lost Lovers
"It depicts an extraordinary panorama of life within a Muslim community . . . Thoughtful, revealing, lushly written and painful, this timely book deserves the widest audience."
- David Mitchell, author of "Cloud Atlas and "Ghostwritten
"A superb achievement, a book in which every detail is nuanced, every piece of drama carefully choreographed, even minor characters carefully drawn."
-Colm Toibin, author of "The Master and "Blackwater Lightship
"Haunting. [Aslam's] vivid and tender portrait of the strict Islamic mother, isolated by her unassailable belief, has stayed with me; as has his metamorphosis of a Northern English town into a poet's universe of flowers, trees and butterflies."
-Alan Hollinghurst, author of "The Line of Beauty and "The Swimming Pool Library
"A striking and impressive novel." -"The Sunday Times
"Rich in detail, languid in cadence and iridescent with remarkable images . . . Aslam takes us by the hand and, scattering his trail of bewitching images, leads us into his story . . . Rarely does Aslam put a foot wrong. This is that rare sort of book that gives a voice to those whose voices are seldom heard." -"The Observer
""Maps for Lost Lovers is a work of great courage both technically and spiritually . . . Stylistically the novel is equally daring . . . A filigree of quests for loves that never were, of passions cut short and of romances that are about to be. I was heartbroken when the dense, dark tapestry was finished." -"The Independent
"An extraordinary work, echoing Rohinton Mistry and Salman Rushdie, but entirely, and unmistakably, the product of a wholly originalmind." -"The Herald
"In this book, filled with stories of cruelty, injustice, bigotry and ignorance, love never steps out of the picture-it gleams at the edges of even the deepest wounds . . . [a] remarkable achievment." -"The Guardian
" 'Maps for Lost Lovers' is a novel of extraordinary quality. Islamists would be foolish to try and make political mischief out of it, while western readers would be foolish to ignore such a carefully crafted work." -"The Economist
"This is a Persian love poem for the 21st century, and Aslam is an author to watch."
"Aslam's prose soars, dazzling images abound . . . Through the opulence of his writing and the darkness of his message Aslam quite brilliantly and shockingly seduces his reader . . . Beautiful and only too real, this story born of romance and pain matches its artistry with courage. It is an important novel and also a very fine one." -"The Irish Times
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a thought-provoking book, providing insight into the world of people who are trying to adapt and come to terms with life in a country with a different culture, climate and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Michelle Thompson
As other reviewers point out, the novel is oozing with lush poetic, metaphorical language and imagery which comes, the author suggests, from the traditions of Urdu poetry and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Nina-Jo Rees
I just loved this book. I actually felt like I lived in it while I was reading it! Will read again and again and can't wait to read other books by the author.Published 9 months ago by janapana
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 morePublished 14 months ago by linda downs
purchased as recommended by Christopher Hitchens so couldn't go wrong. Brilliant book sensitive and disturbing. My best book of the year.Published 16 months ago by Mr. Roger Holloway
A brilliant read with illuminating insights into the Pakistani community
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 morePublished 18 months ago by Khan