by Nadeem Aslam (Faber & Faber) ISBN 9780571287925
What The Kite Runner did for me, was open up an understanding of the history of and life in Afghanistan. With The Blind Man’s Garden I experienced the same: I have now, after reading this beautiful, heartrending novel a better perception of Pakistan and Afghanistan after 9/11.
It is full of longing, personal struggle and love stories. Love between two foster brothers who cross the border to Afghanistan to assist with the wounded, and are caught up in a fight between rebels and the Taliban. Love of a father for his dead wife, who regrets what he did to her because of his religious convictions. He tries to make amends. And then there is the love between one of the brothers and the other one’s wife.
Magic realism comes in with the secondary characters, like a fakir bound heavily in chains, each link symbolising someone’s wish, or a bird pardoner, who catches birds, so people can buy them and set them free, taking their prayers with them.
The intensity of the story, the beauty of the language and the compelling tone all made this novel unforgettable. This is a book I will keep, read again and recommend to anyone waiting for a special read.