The Wandering Falcon

By Jamil Ahmad
(Riverhead Books, Hardcover, 9781594488276, 256pp.)

Publication Date: October 13, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Paperback, Paperback, Hardcover, Paperback

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the October 2011 Indie Next List
“These linked tales set along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan are unlike anything else you have read about the region. They offer a generous and moving portrait of a little understood way of life. This is the kind of fiction that moves beyond terms like 'great literature' and ventures on to terms like 'essential' and 'necessary.'”
-- Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA


Description

A haunting literary debut set in the forbidding remote tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Traditions that have lasted for centuries, both brutal and beautiful, create a rigid structure for life in the wild, astonishing place where Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan meet-the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is a formidable world, and the people who live there are constantly subjected to extremes-of place and of culture.

The Wandering Falcon begins with a young couple, refugees from their tribe, who have traveled to the middle of nowhere to escape the cruel punishments meted out upon those who transgress the boundaries of marriage and family. Their son, Tor Baz, descended from both chiefs and outlaws, becomes "The Wandering Falcon," a character who travels among the tribes, over the mountains and the plains, into the towns and the tents that constitute the homes of the tribal people. The media today speak about this unimaginably remote region, a geopolitical hotbed of conspiracies, drone attacks, and conflict, but in the rich, dramatic tones of a master storyteller, this stunning, honor-bound culture is revealed from the inside.

Jamil Ahmad has written an unforgettable portrait of a world of custom and compassion, of love and cruelty, of hardship and survival, a place fragile, unknown, and unforgiving.




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.




NPR
Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014

The Wandering Falcon received high praise and was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. (This piece initially aired June 16, 2011 on Morning Edition). More at NPR.org

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NPR
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2011

The Wandering Falcon is a collection of short fiction from Jamil Ahmad. Ahmad is an 80-year-old former Pakistani government official who is making his debut in fiction. More at NPR.org

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. How would you describe life within an itinerant tribe? What intrigues you about this kind of existence? Would you be cut out for the harsh realities of desert life?




Praise For The Wandering Falcon

"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

 

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