Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Spotlight: The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad

A haunting literary debut set in the forbidding remote tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Traditions that have lasted for centuries, both brutal and beautiful, create a rigid structure for life in the wild, astonishing place where Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan meet-the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is a formidable world, and the people who live there are constantly subjected to extremes-of place and of culture.

The Wandering Falcon begins with a young couple, refugees from their tribe, who have traveled to the middle of nowhere to escape the cruel punishments meted out upon those who transgress the boundaries of marriage and family. Their son, Tor Baz, descended from both chiefs and outlaws, becomes "The Wandering Falcon," a character who travels among the tribes, over the mountains and the plains, into the towns and the tents that constitute the homes of the tribal people. The media today speak about this unimaginably remote region, a geopolitical hotbed of conspiracies, drone attacks, and conflict, but in the rich, dramatic tones of a master storyteller, this stunning, honor-bound culture is revealed from the inside.

Jamil Ahmad has written an unforgettable portrait of a world of custom and compassion, of love and cruelty, of hardship and survival, a place fragile, unknown, and unforgiving.

Read the reviews!

”Mr. Ahmad’s deep understanding of his characters shows what a powerful truth teller fiction can be”
—The New York Times

“…[Ahmad] proves a masterful guide to the landscape and to the captivating art of storytelling at its finest. This is a shadowy, enchanting journey...A gripping book, as important for illuminating the current state of this region as it is timeless in its beautiful imagery and rhythmic prose.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he characters, the tales, and the landscape are rendered with clarity, sympathy, and insight. The author makes us travel with him.... The book offers a rich picture of the "mountainous, lawless tribal areas" we have previously known mainly for bullets and bombs." — Steve Inskeep, NPR

“[The novel] provides a rare and sympathetic glimpse into a world that most Westerners know only through news reports related to military operations...
A fascinating journey; essential reading.” Library Journal, starred review

“The Wandering Falcon” is not a long book. But it is dense with nuance and offers uncommon insight into a land too often explained away as “the most dangerous place on earth”.
A wonderful debut.” —The Economist

“A striking debut...The power and beauty of these stories are unparalleled in most fiction to come out of south Asia.”—The Guardian

“Tautly written... Fantastic... Drawn with tenderness but without sentimentality... Ahmad is a deft storyteller and his slim volume possesses a strong allure.” —Financial Times

Jamil Ahmad was born in 1931 and educated in India and Pakistan. He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1954 and served mainly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA. He was also Development Commissioner for the Frontier and Chairman of the Tribal Development Corporation. In addition, he was posted as a minister in Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul at a critical time before and during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After his retirement from the Civil Service, he served for four years with the World Bank as a consultant on Afghanistan. He lives in Islamabad with his wife, Helga Ahmad, a nationally recognized environmentalist and social worker.

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