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In an unnamed town Jugnu and his lover Chanda have disappeared. Rumours abound in the close-knit Pakistani community, and then on a snow-covered January morning Chanda’s brothers are arrested for murder. Telling the story of the next twelve months, Maps for Lost Lovers opens the heart of a family at the crossroads of culture, community, nationality and religion, and expresses their pain in a language that is arrestingly poetic.
‘This is a deeply pastoral novel, tied to the seasons and resonating with birdsong . . . Like Aslam, I was heartbroken when the dense, dark tapestry was finished.’ Independent on Sunday
‘Despite the violence that lies at the heart of the novel, it is a celebration of love and life. Sights and sounds, smells and colours are not so much vivid backdrops for the narrative as structural, mood- and texture-enhancing parts of it . . . This is that rare sort of book that gives a voice to those voices that are seldom heard.’ Observer
'This is explosive stuff, providing a core conflict around which flit other stories, variations on themes of loneliness, exile, love found and more often lost ... That so much bleakness is rendered in such exquisite prose is this novel's other defining characteristic.'
'Aslam makes [Kaukab] a remarkable character who is both human and thoroughly understandable ... the novel packs an emotional wallop.'
'...a rift in the community sees suspicion falling on Chanda's brothers, adding further complexity to a lavishly layered portrait of cruelty and ignorance. Yet, for all its despair, the imagery is beautifully drawn and life affirming.'
'Two things raise this book from a prosaic work of social commentary into an illuminating piece of contemporary fiction: Mr Aslam's arresting prose that quietly and eloquently opens up the heart of Shamas and Kaukab's family, and the author's courage in questioning the more outrageous laws that are enacted in Islam's name ...Maps for Lost Lovers is a novel of extraordinary quality. Islamists would be foolish to try to make political mischief out of it, while western readers would be foolish to ignore such a carefully crafted work.'
'In this book, filled with stories of cruelty, injustice, bigotry and ignorance, love never steps out of the picture - it gleams at the edges of even the deepest wounds. Perhaps this is why the novel never gets weighed down by all the sorrows it carries: there is such shimmering joy within it too.'
'This is a deeply pastoral novel, tied to the seasons and resonating with birdsong ... Like Aslam, I was heartbroken when the dense, dark tapestry was finished.'
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