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The Wandering Falcon Hardcover – October 13, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead; 1st edition (October 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488276
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Superb. The work of a gifted story teller who has lived in the world of his fiction, and who offers his readers rare insight, wisdom and-above all- pleasure." – Mohsin Hamid, author of Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist

"I’ve been talking about this book to anyone who will listen. From page one, I was transported to a land of nomadic tribes who live and die by ancestral codes. But The Wandering Falcon is not only about tribes. It is about honor, love, loyalty, and grace. And it is about borders--geographical, political, and personal. The terrain where Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan meet may be cruel and unforgiving, but every page of this book is filled with beauty and humanity. By the final pages, I found myself transformed." – Nami Mun, author of Miles from Nowhere

"I've been talking about this book to anyone who will listen. From page one, I was transported to a land of nomadic tribes who live and die by ancestral codes. But The Wandering Falcon is not only about tribes. It is about honor, love, loyalty, and grace. And it is about borders--geographical, political, and personal. The terrain where Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan meet may be cruel and unforgiving, but every page of this book is filled with beauty and humanity. By the final pages, I found myself transformed." – The New York Times

"[Y]ou instantly care so much about that boy and his fate that you can hardly stand to stop reading. The early chapters are reminiscent of masterpieces like Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, which also features a boy alone in a gorgeous but harsh and often terrifying desert landscape.... [T]he characters, the tales, and the landscape are rendered with clarity, sympathy, and insight. The author makes us travel with him.... The book offers a rich picture of the "mountainous, lawless tribal areas" we have previously known mainly for bullets and bombs." – Steve Inskeep, NPR

"A striking debut...The power and beauty of these stories are unparalleled in most fiction to come out of south Asia." – The Guardian

"[W]ritten with such a terrible beauty...With this novel Ahmad has followed Mark Twain's advice to write what he knows. And what he know is all the more fiction-worthy for his lived experience among these hardy people, much feared and little known...Highly accomplished first novel...Elegiac voice...They are neither romanticized nor vilified but shown in all their terrible, resilient beauty." – The Independent (UK)

"Tautly written... Fantastic... Drawn with tenderness but without sentimentality... Ahmad is a deft storyteller and his slim volume possesses a strong allure." – Financial Times

"Outstanding...The novel is more than a beautifully written piece of fiction; it is a socio-anthropological account of a tribal landscape that is changing rapidly. Executed brilliantly...This is a book worth more than its weight in gold." – Business World India
 

About the Author

Jamil Ahmad was born in 1930. He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1954 and served mainly in the Frontier Province and Baluchistan. He was also development commissioner for the Frontier and chairman of the Tribal Development Corporation, and was posted as minister in Pakistan's embassy in Kabul at a critical time, before and during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He lives in Islamabad with his wife, Helga Ahmad, a nationally recognized environmentalist and social worker. This is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

Beautifully, elegantly written.
inseattle
This is a very well written story connected by a series of vignettes exploring a world largely unknown to many westerners.
Carly J. Alba
The book is small and is an easy read...and I could not put it down.
P. Edie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When one thinks of a place on the world map where Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan meet, perhaps what first comes to mind is the War on Terror, extreme violence, death and destruction. But what of the time and space before the Soviets ever invaded the area? Before the stranglehold of the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalism? Before the U.S. invasion? Before geopolitics?

The Wandering Falcon is an intimate, poetic and poignant novel of that very time and space, charting the cultural and social landscape of the wild and formidable world known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Jamil Ahmad paints the fierce but beautiful landscape of a tribal people and their lives of hardship and survival, lived and endured in a cruel and unforgiving land of extremes, a land as beautiful as it is desolate.

The Wandering Falcon is nine exquisite chapters tracing the contours of the human spirit in a tribal landscape of mountains, plains and deserts of the FATA. Each story has empathy for the centuries old, honor-bound culture and an understanding of the ancestral codes of behavior which give rigid structure to life in the wild and free tribal regions.

Each chapter tells with relentless poetry and passion, the reality of life in one of the most crucial areas of the world today. With a poignant sense of dignity and humanity Jamil Ahmad addresses the emotional conflict between the allure of the region`s past and the inescapable pull of its future by narrating the story of Tor Baz, the Wandering Falcon.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By 35-year Technology Consumer TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...that should be required reading for anybody wanting to understand the powerful cultural influences in the modern politics of southwest Asia.

Jamil Ahmad wrote "The Wandering Falcon" thirty years ago, and its appearance in print today is in time to offer a valuable cultural primer on a harsh land with seemingly inscrutable traditions. It follows the journey of Tor Baz, a son born to a couple on the run, fleeing from their transgression of tribal codes.

Set vaguely in the post WWII era, the inexact timing of events is a reflection of the infinite patience of the tribes that populate what we call Waziristan and Baluchestan (generally where the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan converge). "Six new moons" or the "return of two winters" is sufficient precision needed to measure events in the lives of the nomads at the center of this novel.

In elegantly spare prose, Ahmad describes the challenges of nomadic peoples who care about where they can graze their animals, where they can find water, where they can take their goods to market, and where they can take refuge from bitter winds, alkaline soils and harsh winters. The conflict of conformity with arbitrary national boundaries, and the collision of tribal and nomadic culture with modern concepts of central government are wonderfully illustrated. In this book, the culture of the tribe trumps even the teachings of the Koran.

This is the tableau laid out in the life of Tor Baz, who even among nomads is nomadic himself. Ahmad illuminates the codes of honor, the swift delivery of justice, the cultural acceptance of acts which seem inherently criminal --such as kidnapping-- to outsiders, and the delicate rituals that precede actual transactions among the characters in this story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had never read any fiction from this part of the world, so I thought it was about time. Jamil Ahmad takes us deep into the harsh borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The book is an artistic fusion of novel and vignettes. Its form is anecdotal, its stories loosely interwoven with the wanderings of Tor Baz (the Black Falcon), son of runaway lovers. After his parents die for their transgression, the boy finds a home with a variety of kind protectors in succession. In boyhood and in manhood he possesses an aura of detachment that comes, perhaps, from being without an admissible past in a land where tribal ties are everything.

We encounter Tor Baz in the company or vicinity of rebels, nomads, kidnappers, government officials, a tribal general, a mad mullah, a seller of women. Ahmad's book is a window into unforgiving tribal laws and customs - and the conflicts that arise between centralized governments and fiercely independent tribes.

I got a real sense of place from reading The Black Falcon - the hostile landscapes, the cruel winds, the airless mud houses, the nomadic caravans. Traditions are rigid and tempers short in these lands, but Ahmad is non-judgmental. He tells his tales and lets us think what we will. This is a book I might want to read more than once, for its unpretentious wisdom. The prose style is perfect - impressive in its simplicity, rich in its restraint. How did an obscure Pakistani civil servant get to be such a wonderful writer?

Ahmad kept his manuscript hidden away for over three decades before allowing it to be published at age seventy-eight. This is not the work of a fame-seeker, but of a keen and compassionate observer of humanity.

I would definitely recommend The Wandering Falcon to thoughtful readers and lovers of international literature.
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