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The Wasted Vigil Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 9, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kiriyama-winner Aslam (Maps for Lost Lovers) takes an ambitious and moving look at the human cost of Afghanistan's war-torn reality. Marcus, a British doctor, lives near Jalalabad and quietly mourns the loss of his Afghan wife, their grown daughter and his hand to the Taliban and tribal warring. His houseguests includes Lara, a Russian woman searching for the truth about her soldier brother's disappearance, and David, a formerly zealous CIA operative whose love for Marcus's murdered daughter binds him to the older man as they search for her missing son. There's a tremendous tension in the first half of the book as the connections between the characters and the country are built up, and Aslam exploits the setup perfectly when a cast of younger characters—a fervent jihadi, a charismatic but arrogant American soldier, a rebellious local schoolteacher—arrive at the house and bring danger with them. Lyrical but not overwritten, the novel creates an unflinchingly clear picture of a country whose history of strife is still being written. (Sept.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Nadeem Aslam's unflinching epic novel spans centuries of civilization and conflict in Afghanistan, shifting back and forth through time while resolutely refusing to side with East or West. While he takes a dim view of terrorism, Aslam dismisses the notion that the Taliban is solely to blame for Afghanistan's plight, pointing instead to the conjunction of multiple cultural, political, and economic forces in a relentless cycle of aggression and retaliation. Some critics took issue with Aslam's prose, and his graphic descriptions of torture, rape, and murder make the book unsuitable for the squeamish. But for those with strong stomachs, Aslam takes readers on a haunting journey into a civilization on the margins of modernity, a world still incomprehensible to most Western eyes.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030726842X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268426
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,692,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anita Anand on January 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I looked at Nadeem Aslam's latest book several times in the bookstore. The cover picture - five delicious pomegranates (two cut in half) invite the browser. I picked it up and put it down several times, on several visits to different bookstores. Then, on my birthday in December, I got two copies.

Aslam's Wasted Vigil is a delight to read. It's almost like a poem - lyrical and soft. The lives of many different kinds of people - old and young, men and women, Afghans, Americans, British, Russian - are all woven together in a tapestry of love, intrigue, hate and regret. Wasted Vigil is a tremendous insight into present day realities in Afghanistan.

I have been in Afghanistan twice over the last four years and once for almost six months. I did not know too much about Afghanistan's socio-political history before I went there in 2004. The book makes it all come alive, in a lyrical way. There is a calmness in Aslam's style which is rich and powerful, gentle and kind, giving an intimate insight into the minds and hearts of all the characters - so well developed - right to the end. For all those wondering why things are the way they in today's global geo-politics, the book is a terrific read. For others, interested in poetry and literature, the book is an even finer read.

Read the book!
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By Elish on September 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Nadeem Aslam has woven exquisite beauty out of great tragedy. It is easy to fall into despair when dealing with the last 30 years of Afghanistan's history, yet Aslam not only navigates away from despair, he imbues this tragedy with both delicate beauty - both human and natural. This book is more complex than "A Thousand Splendid Suns," and should be read by anyone who loved that book and wants to move further...This is a remarkable novel to savor and linger over...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No matter what your political persuasion, this book will provide you with a new perspective on Afghanistan. Through a simple, but compelling narrative story involving characters from diverse backgrounds, The Wasted Vigil reminds us of the oft forgotten cultural and human elements of Afghan society, including their interaction with other cultures. Similar to the movie Crash, The Wasted Vigil shows the interconnectedness of all who have been involved in Afghanistan. Many of the themes developed in this book can be applied to other countries as well.
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Format: Paperback
I couldn't put this book down - the lyrical descriptions of the lost beauty of Afghanistan & the suffering which the Afghan people have survived through years of war - honestly, this story was both inspiring, captivating, yet also very sad! Aslam clearly has done his research into the history of the region - he touches on geo-political issues which are often ignored when hearing about Afghanistan as reported in today's media. He is sympathetic to the people of the region while deftly illustrating the folly of the invaders/occupiers who all use the country for their own means - both the Soviets as well as the Americans.

His characters came across as authentic & vivid to me - I sympathized with their inner turmoil as they reacted to outside events with dignity & hope, yet they ultimately trod the paths which they seemed destined to follow. As a Muslim, I have to agree with an earlier reviewer in that it would have been helpful if Aslam had included the chapter/verse references when he quoted from the Quran - I think his intention in quoting out of context was to highlight the fact that this is precisely what the Taliban or extremists frequently do in order to justify their interpretation, yet to an non-Muslim, it would appear that the Quran actually condones such abhorrent behavior (when it DOES not!) Other than this one quibble, the book successfully portrays the upheaval of war, the high cost to the average citizen, & also the human striving for survival against all odds...really beautifully written.
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Format: Hardcover
It is a rare book that can bring so many amazing attributes to the telling of a life changing story. Aslam accomplishes much in this heartbreaking yet beautiful tale. Numerous books have been published over the last few years that have focused on the Middle East, the Taliban, Muslim Fundamentalists, and the general mistreatment of women and children in that part of the world. I honestly thought nothing new could be said, but Aslam has done a magnificent job of shining a new light on the mayhem and injustice. Taking place in today's Afghanistan, the story includes a diverse band of characters. An English ex-pat, his Afghani wife and daughter, and the stories from their village lend their voices to the tale. An American ex spy, the sister of a dead Soviet from the 80's, an American Special Forces agent, and a young jihadi infuse their backgrounds into the tapestry..each life is significant in creating the final image. The narrative is infused with the details and events of complex and often tragic lives. In his picture on the back cover of the book, Aslam looks to be under 30. His perception and understanding of the human spirit and ability to tell this story without prejudice has completely amazed me. He is too young to have accomplished this wise endeavor! All the characters pulled me into the story, but I was especially interested in the young terrorist. Casa's educational process was "devoid of literature, history and politics" and certainly helped to create this pitiless killer of innocents. He had been separated from his parents at a young age and had no contact with women. How can a soul develop when deprived of all the beauty and complexity that is life? The Special Forces character also revealed prejudices born of these terrible times.Read more ›
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