The Wasted Vigil
By Nadeem Aslam
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307268426, 336pp.)
Publication Date: September 9, 2008
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The author of Maps for Lost Lovers gives us a new novel—at once lyrical and blistering—about war in our time, told through the lives of five people who come together in post-9/11 Afghanistan.
Marcus, an English doctor whose progressive, outspoken Afghani wife was murdered by the Taliban, opens his home—itself an eerily beautiful monument to his losses—to the others: Lara, from St. Petersburg, looking for evidence of her soldier brother who disappeared decades before during the Soviet invasion; David, an American, a former spy who has seen his ideals turned inside out during his twenty-five years in Afghanistan; Casa, a young Afghani whose hatred of the West plunges him into the depths of zealotry; and James, the Special Forces soldier in whom David sees a dangerous revival of the unquestioning notions of right and wrong that he himself once held.
In mesmerizing prose, Nadeem Aslam reveals the complex ties—of love and desperation, pain and salvation, madness and clarity—that bind the characters. And through their stories he creates a timely and achingly intimate portrait of the “continuation of wars” that shapes our world.
In its radiant language, its depth of feeling, and its unflinching drama, The Wasted Vigil is a luminous work of fiction.
Nadeem Aslam is the author of two previous novels, both of which were long-listed for the Man Booker Prize: Maps for Lost Lovers, winner of the Kiriyama Prize and a New York Times Notable Book, and Season of the Rainbirds. He is also the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Born in Pakistan, he now lives in England.