The Wasted Vigil

Amit Chaudhuri writes:

Although Nadeem Aslam’s third novel, The Wasted Vigil, addresses recent and not-so-recent history – the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan; the fall of the Taliban and the ongoing war there – it is, implicitly, about revisiting the past and recording the present without having easy access, any more, to the liberal or novelistic solutions that were available until so recently: realist reportage and analysis, fantasy, the epic, the fairy tale. Aslam has a reputation for lush, ornate writing – it is supposed to go with his brand of ‘magic realism’ – which makes him appear to fit into a familiar and successful tradition, in which style and aesthetics comply with, and display, national characteristics, where ‘national’ is primarily defined by being non-Western. Butterflies and visions inhabit his fiction.

(LRB 27 August 2009)

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