The Blind Man’s Garden (Nadeem Aslam)

Nadeen Aslam’s new novel  describes the ‘war on terror’ in the months after 9/11 from the perspective of two young Pakistani men. They are equally opposed to the Taliban and the US, but decide to travel to Afghanistan to help the casualties of the war. Aslam describes the conflicting perspectives in such a vivid and powerful way, that you have to agree with the observation of one of the characters, that “the divide is too great, too final”: “We can’t know what the Westerners want. … To know what they want you have to eat what they eat, wear what they wear, breathe the air they breathe. You have to be born where they are born”. The problem is that we cannot accept the finality of this fundamental division between Islamic and Western perspectives, and write books about it at the same time. In this respect, this beautifully written book bears witness to a stinging embarrassment.

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