Wasted Vigil: Chapter Analysis
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The narrative is infused with the details and events of complex and often tragic lives. In his picture on the back cover of the book, Aslam looks to be under His perception and understanding of the human spirit and ability to tell this story without prejudice has completely amazed me. He is too young to have accomplished this wise endeavor! All the characters pulled me into the story, but I was especially interested in the young terrorist. Casa's educational process was "devoid of literature, history and politics" and certainly helped to create this pitiless killer of innocents. He had been separated from his parents at a young age and had no contact with women.
How can a soul develop when deprived of all the beauty and complexity that is life? The Special Forces character also revealed prejudices born of these terrible times. Specifically, his inability to see torture as an evil onto itself provided an insightful look at the viewpoint these men have as they try to protect and defend our freedoms. The cultures continue to clash with out much discussion or understanding of each other. This novel in all its melancholy softly protests the outcomes of war. It silently screams at the injustices that have become so prevalent through the actions of extremists and it lends a voice that quietly pleads for the splendor of different lands, traditions, and people to rise up and erase the evil that so often seems to triumph.
It is after all our stories that show the truth and beauty that we were all created to celebrate. It takes place in contemporary Afghanistan and links together the stories of five very different characters, all of which I loved for their own flaws and beauty. This is an intense and sad story of people being controlled by their circumstances. It's one of the best that I've read. Book Summary. 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. In its radiant language, its depth of feeling, and its unflinching drama, The Wasted Vigil is a luminous work of fiction.
Membership Advantages. Marrying breathtakingly beautiful imagery with the ugly brutality of violence, Aslam navigates the troubled history of Afghanistan over the past two decades. Reader Reviews. Heart-breaking Insight into Afghanistan. This is probably one of the most profound books I have ever read. It breathes life into the endless news coverage of Afghanistan over the past decade. The horror and degradation suffered on all sides, the seeming hopelessness of finding a way back Read More. Five stars plus! The writing is positively stunning, the imagery so rich the reader has to pause to simply enjoy the picture the author has painted.
This book is one to be savored Write your own review! Beyond the Book. Afghanistan - At the beginning of the novel, Lara, a character reminiscent, in her painful past and gracefulness, of Lara in Dr. Zhivago, arrives on Marcus's doorstep to uncover the fate of her brother Benedikt, who came to Afghanistan with the Soviet invasion The Mujahideen were partially funded by the CIA during the Carter and Reagan administrations, and by a number of other countries. In , the Soviet Union If you liked The Wasted Vigil, try these:.
A Thousand Splendid Suns. Published Feb More about this book. Read Reviews. At once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love. Anil's Ghost. Unfolding against the deeply evocative background of Sri Lanka's landscape and ancient civilization, Anil's Ghost is a literary spellbinder. Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member.
Search Readalikes again. How we choose readalikes. Books with similar themes. His left hand is missing: "It would be no surprise if trees and vines of Afghanistan suspended their growth one day, fearful that if their roots were to lengthen they might come into contact with a landmine buried nearby. He navigates this minefield with sharp reflexes and a rare poise. The book is beautiful and brutal; butterflies, moths, flowers, gems, paintings, poetry and stone Buddhas keep erupting in the middle of this desolate landscape. Occasionally it harks back to missing GIs in Vietnam, the early days of Soviet space programme and, more ambitiously, the spread of Buddhism in Afghanistan.
But the core is made up of intersecting lives destroyed by the ongoing Afghan war: a "companionship of the wound", as Aslam puts it. But it would be wrong to read the novel as a primer on the history of this forsaken land; it's more of a poetic mediation on the destructive urges that bind us together, and a literary quest to find humanity in the most unlikely of places.
David, a former CIA operative and veteran of America's covert war, has his own demons to fight. Everywhere are moths, gold leaf, butterflies, precious stones, musk and civet, camphor, roses, birdsong, blossom, cluster-mines, booby-traps, judicial amputations. In Marcus's house, books are nailed to the ceiling to escape confiscation by the Taliban. In the abandoned perfume factory in the garden is the monumental head of a Gandhara Buddha, partly excavated.
A corpse is covered in fragments of mirror-glass to scare away vultures. If that all suggests a book of ravishing but frozen images, Aslam sets these pictures into motion so as to advance his story. The suicide bombers reveal their presence by the costly scent they are wearing. Casa is wounded in a wood of knives. Some scenes, such as a game of buzkashi with a live human being, make unbearable reading. Each chapter of The Wasted Vigil begins in the present tense then falls, as in a fitful sleep, into a tense of the past. For Aslam, it seems, the past is continuous and cannot be obliterated. The book closes with the great Buddha's head swinging high above the Hindu Kush, slung under a Chinook helicopter.
It is as striking an image as the stealth bomber that appears in the 19th-century sky in Philip Hensher's novel about Afghanistan, The Mulberry Empire. On the debit side, important events that move the story on and expose the characters to stress happen in anterior time under the Soviets, under the Taliban which, unavoidably, dulls their urgency to the reader.
In reality, Aslam is a wanderer between worlds, shuttling between Peshawar and Huddersfield, Akhmatova and Nezami. His characters occupy the same no man's land, as can be seen from their nomenclature. The name Qatrina does not become Muslim by virtue of its qaf, any more than Benedikt becomes Russian with its k. Casa is no kind of name for a Pathan orphan, and the explanation for it which I won't give is outlandish. Dunia is a Muslim name, but it is also Russian. Islam appears to Aslam as the French revolution to De Tocqueville: desperate and irrational but also powerful and effective beyond all measure.
Sometimes, he is provocative: "The religion of Islam at its core does not believe in the study of science, does not believe the world runs along rational and predictable laws. Muslims study sciences that are of service to them, such as medicine. Their world is subject to rational and predictable laws: just to please David Hume, the Prophet performed no miracles. At other times, Aslam is rhetorical: "These dozens of clerics - the emir, the haji, the hafiz, the maulana, the sheikh, the hazrat, the alhaj, the shah, the mullah, the janab, the janabeali, the khatib, the molvi - had frightened him as they preached when he was very young.
This being a novel, sex is everything.