Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews

Renee Abigail Penelope Harold Meg

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from Renée's Reviews



Maps for Lost Lovers

by Nadeem Aslam
Faber & Faber paperback

Maps for Lost Lovers is the story of Pakistani immigrants in today's England and offers a sobering view of the difficulties faced by both societies. The story concerns Kaukab and Shamas, immigrants from Pakistan some time ago, their three adult children who have left home by the time of the events told and Shamas' brother Jugnu who lives "in sin" next door with Chanda. The murder of the sinning couple and the search for their killers moves the plot, albeit slowly, along. The story gradually reveals the complexities of a family life built on the absolute fanaticism of Kaukab who insists on strict religious values as these values impact on her husband who is not a believer and on the raising of the children who have left the values behind them in their adult lives. The book serves, and thus helped me, as guide to, perhaps, comprehend some of the passionate prejudices, the racism and fanaticism of a society which absolutely refuses to recognize any worth in the modern or western, world seen to be corrupt and dangerous. The book gave me an insight and an understanding of the bewilderment, the alienation and the hostility of the immigrants face to face with a moral code not of their making. However, the intertwining of myth and legend with reality, so much praised in the reviews, sat uneasily on my appreciation of the story. There are too many confusing sub-plots and the atmosphere is often too hot-house and exotic for my taste. I can, nevertheless, recommend the book strongly for the insight to be gained concerning the problems the West inevitably faces today. The exposure is brutal and difficult to digest, but crucially important for us all.

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