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Der Garten Des Blinden (2014)

by Nadeem Aslam(Favorite Author)
3.86 of 5 Votes: 5
review 1: Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden is a novel that makes a commendable attempt to provide the Western World with insight into events that occurred in Pakistan and Afghanistan right after the 9/11 attacks in the US. With beautiful, highly descriptive prose, Aslam gives a peak into what everyday life was like for the people of Pakistan at this time. Holding no punches, he gives an account of just how much their lives were affected by the events that took place on that September day, reminding us of the global impact of that tragedy, more strongly felt in that region and in more horrific ways than most of us in the West could imagine. And, sadly, all in the name of religion. An informative and at times emotional read, I appreciated Aslam’s objectivity in telling hi... mores story, of trying to establish a historical understanding for events that lead up to 9/11 and of what occurred after, his main characters being moderate, open minded Pakistanis, accused by their more religiously zealous ‘brothers’ of not being Islamic enough. The different story lines were compelling and there was enough tension in each to keep the pages turning. Of morality, there was lots, one of the more touching messages being the dangers of keeping our experiences to ourselves, whether through shame or force of habit, not wanting to burden others, and in doing so, making our actions seem incomprehensible and crazed, leading to misunderstandings and flawed decision making. This book was a slam dunk 4 stars for me right up until about the last fifth, where the actions of one of the main protagonists, Mikal, take an incomprehensible turn. Just as he has seemly found his way out of the wilderness back to the bosom of his family, who are in dire need of his protection, he decides to abandon them to fulfill what I can only assume he saw as a life debt, by agreeing to walk back into a situation that can only be likened to a pit full of scorpions and snakes, knowing full well the dangers. It was also aggravating that while at times, Mikal seemed to have a lot of street smarts and knew his way around a tense situation, at others he seemed incredibly naive, almost willfully placing himself in needless danger, the tension becoming more of an irritant than a tingling excitement, as more than once, I felt that he had no right being where he was. Though Aslam tries to couch Mikal’s behavior with high minded philosophies of civility, magnanimity and reparation, it was a hard sell for me, perhaps not believing that enough time had passed for him to reach a place of forgiveness and understanding. The only explanation I had for the way I was feeling was that just as a character towards the end of the novel says:The Westerners are unknowable to us. The divide is too great, too finalI felt that I must not understand what it means to be a Muslim, where the needs of the individual are suppressed in the name of a cause, in direct contrast to Western thinking where a person’s instinct for self preservation is sometimes taken to ridiculous extremes. The novel ended on a flat note of ambiguity, with enough unsaid to be another book in its own right, leaving me disappointed, with nothing to repair the damage from the previous 50 pages.So, in what must be a rare move indeed, I officially rated The Blind Man’s Garden 4 stars, for there is enough wealth in this novel to deserve it, but would have given it 3.5 if I could for what I felt was an off key ending.
review 2: When I finished reading Nadeem Aslam's MAPS FOR LOST LOVERS I felt as if I'd lost a friend, so I downloaded THE BLIND MAN'S GARDEN. The prose is gorgeous in both books, but less dense here and I prefer that. THE BLIND MAN'S GARDEN is the story of the war in Afghanistan as viewed by a cultured, middle-class family in Pakistan. We meet all sides, the medical student son who just wants to take care of the wounded. The young wife he leaves behind, his father, a good, decent man whose religion means everything to him. Jihadists who use their religion as an excuse to torture and kill. War lords who sell innocent boys to the Americans as jihadists for $500. The Americans who take care of their prisoners even as they torture them. I was gripped by what was happening to these poor people until in the last 50 pages Mikal, the clever character, does something so irredeemably stupid and travels around the countryside without a plan. I understood the structural reason for it, but didn't believe that clever character would do that. If anyone reading this has read the book, please let me know what you think. less
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This book was very difficult to get going.A few hundred pages in I bailed!
Spanning - cultuur - geschiedenis - romantiek ... wat wil je nog meer?
Heart breaking and beautiful - full of misery and hope.
selected by Julie
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