peteg's blog - noise - books - 2021 09 26 NadeemAslam TheWastedVigil

Nadeem Aslam: The Wasted Vigil.

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Kindle. Powerful stuff, mostly handled well. As topical now — with the Taliban swinging back into power — as it was back in 2007/2008. The Taliban, the local war lords, the CIA, the Pakistanis, the Soviets fight in Afghanistan. It's a bit pox-on-all-your-houses but comes down hardest on the foundations of Islam. (As a non-expert on Islam I found it difficult to accept many of the quotes as canonical.) Aslam solves the structural problem of the novel (that there appears to be only about ten people in the whole country, each with unique and unusual histories) by focusing on a small village with a deep history of conflict, and people with rare skills (doctors, female teachers, CIA agents, ...).

Many and varied opinions at Goodreads. Yes, the dialogue/speech bubbles all sound about the same. This sometimes made it difficult (and unrewarding) to untangle who was making what claims with what evidentiary basis. Lorraine Adams. Yep, it has its moments of overwriting.