The Blind Man's Garden
Vintage Books, 2014. 367 pages. Fiction.
Pakistan, 2001. American troops have just invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and Jeo, a young medical student, has decided to cross into the war zone to help care for the wounded. His foster brother, Mikal, decides to join him to protect him from danger. Neither can know that what starts as a charitable action will have long ranging consequences for both them and their families.
Aslam's novel is not an easy read, but it is an important story to be told. The writing is poetic and lyrical, even when describing the atrocities endemic in post-9/11 Pakistan and Afghanistan. With the war on terror still going strong, this book presents a unique view of a very troubled region, presents a culture in startling color, and will provide a perspective in counterpoint to events most have seen only in the news. The reader cannot avoid the violence that is a part of life in the region, but the author has written the terrible atrocities that happen with as much compassion and restraint as possible.