Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Review: The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam

With over 100 books on my "to be read" list, rarely do I move a book I just heard about to the top of the list. But I did do that with this book, after reading a glowing review in my local paper. If you follow my reviews, you know I love books that take place in other cultures and locales. This book, the review said, had not only beautiful writing on it's side, but it is based in Afghanistan. I wanted to read it, and I wanted to read it now! So I did.

Let me first say that I struggled through this book for two reasons: the first is that I have been unreasonably busy the last few weeks, and the second is that this is tough material for a Western girl from California to read. It's not just the sort of book you can pick up while your car is going through the wash at the gas station. You need some quiet, some brain power, some sleep the night before.

(Minor spoilers below)
Having said that, though, this book is powerful. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of Afghanistan and that region of the world. It's fiction, to be sure, but so much of it is laced with truth. And, by the way, don't read this if you are married to one point of view. Yes, you'll see the great things the Americans have done in Afghanistan; you'll also see our not so moral or wise choices. You will meet fundamentalist Muslims - and gentle ones. You'll see the world through the eyes of a boy trained in a jihad camp - you'll see how he wants to change....and ultimately can't. This book is not for the faint of heart. But if you have the courage to read it, you'll love it.