I decided to kick off this year’s reading with Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden. I’ve had this book on my Kindle for quite a while now, and I figured this would at least cover ‘A’ in my author challenge.
The author is not unknown to me. I’ve previously read Maps for Lost Lovers, which I remember quite enjoying. Sadly, I can’t say the same about this book. Set between Pakistan and Afghanistan, it’s a fictional account that revolves around the lives of Jeo, Naheed, Mikal, and their families in Heer in the turbulent period after Pakistan pledged assistance to America in their war against terror post 9/11.
Confession time. Less than 40 pages in, I was irritated by the language and the fragmented plot. But, my parents did not raise a quitter, so persevere I did.
It didn’t do me much good. The author tried to cover many, many things. He touched on a love forbidden by society. He touched on the fears and uncertainties of living a life under the shadow of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. He tried to portray extremism and the Jihadi mentality, juxtaposed against the perseverance of true love, and searching for and finding beauty in the small everyday things. Unfortunately…he did none of it well.
In summary: Characters – shallow and poorly developed; Plot – ill defined and piecemeal; Writing – poetic in parts but with what felt like too much irrelevant detail (seriously the book could have been about 100 pages shorter)!
Sadly, I felt that this was a story with a lot of potential, but with really bad execution. I rated this book 2 stars on Goodreads, and I think that’s being generous. On the brighter side of life, it can only get better from here!