Review : Maps for Lost Lovers

December 10, 2012
Author: Nadeem Aslam
Publisher: Vintage / Random House India
Year: 2006
ISBN: 9780571221837
Rating: ★★★½☆
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Nadeem Aslam from Pakistan now lives in England. He is the author of three novels, Season of the Rainbirds (1993), Maps for Lost Lovers (2004) – long listed for the Booker Prize, shortlisted for the IMPAC Prize, and awarded the Kiriyama Prize and the Encore Award – and, most recently, The Wasted Vigil.

Maps for lost lovers: Knitting tale revolves around the disappearance of lovers; Chanda and Jugnu, as heart of the novel. Chanda and Jugnu strangely disappeared from the English town of Dasht-e-Tanhaii. Their missing realization haunts the lives of characters in the initial journey of the story, connecting the common thread with each role. The story is the bridge of family at the crossroads of cultural diversification, religion and national identity. It expresses the pain, reasons and answers in the most catching poetic form.

The English town of Dasht-e-Tanhaii, a large community of Pakistani migrants. In Aslam’s psyche and the words make the town as an intimate small place for the readers. People of the town have renamed their new home – Dasht-e-Tanhaii: The Wilderness of Loneliness or The Desert of Solitude. The cast consist of Jugnu's brother, Shamas who rejects his community’s orthodox form of belief in Islam; Shamas's children are part of the generation that must attempt to counterfeit their identities between Pakistani and British lives without being observed by anger or conflicting demands. Shamas’s wife, Kaukub, portrays the most striking character in the novel. A woman with rigid belief in Islam, certainly the orthodox follower of religion. But as the storyteller evolves the story, in Aslam's words- she is a women who grew up to be a devoted mother, sending British born and raised child back to Pakistan into an arranged marriage.

From pure aromatic love toward her husband, she became who equates physical intimacy with

Paranoia led to misunderstandings with her children, made her life an unfortunate. She would go to any extent to defend Islam.

There is an engraved dilemma of two sides of life dominated by English society. The taboo raised against all transgressions from orthodoxy and also the voice telling us: "Islam said that in order not to be unworthy of being, only one thing was required: love.".

Also, the breathtaking essence in the novel is the description of the surrounding, prose, homage to the flora and fauna of an English town. Mentioning of violent racist attacks on the homes of migrants, Aslam tells us: "At night the scented geraniums were dragged to the centre of the downstairs room in the hope that the breeze dense with rosehips and ripening limes would get to the sleepers upstairs ahead of the white intruders who had generated it by brushing past the foliage in the dark after breaking in." Aslam's physical description is the ability of language to make the world visible through metaphors. Readers are engrossed with the tale described in the form of musical notes, genres and the pitch taking every emotion of connected characters.

Love is the central entity of this novel; it is felt in the deepest wound and shimmers equivalent joy within. Filled with stories of honesty, brutality, crude, racism and evocative. Maps for lost lovers is the reflection of two sides of religion, the resistance and the acceptance. Lives are constructed on the fear of "what people will think/say". The depiction of influential religious facets and cultural forces in an expatriate Pakistani community in England. Characterizations of characters make a story of intertwining of cultures.

Charu Sharma

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Books and writing take me to my Neverland. I want to drown into the creations of music-art-literature. I prefer the company of Books than people- That's cynical me!

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