Book Reviews,  Europe,  FICTION,  FOUR STARS ****,  Immigration,  India/Pakistan/Afghanistan

Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam **** of 4

Islamic Pakistani immigrants struggle with isolation from their homeland and one another. Aslam’s writing is so replete with metaphor and cultural insight that every page is like peeling an orange. Beneath the skin there is the filmy white pith, a thin membrane about each section, and as the sections are removed, and juice is squeezed from within, he reveals not just the seeds, but individual cells. Aslam’s masterpiece is a highly detailed tapestry of emigrant Pakistani culture caught between the old and new. Like all intricate weavings it takes time to construct, but as the plot slowly develops, so does each character’s relationship to Islam. Thus, this is the best book I’ve read on how Islam is practiced by real people, albeit fictional ones. See also, Guests of the Sheik, The Shia Revival, Persepolis, Reading Lolita in Tehran, December 2006.