No-one wins wars, no matter what the cause
THE WASTED VIGIL By Nadeem Aslam Faber and Faber, £17.99 This book reminds us that no-one wins wars. No matter how righteous we believe our cause to be the result can only be suffering and death, and the eventual loss of the ideals with which we started.
THE WASTED VIGIL
By Nadeem Aslam
Faber and Faber, £17.99
This book reminds us that no-one wins wars. No matter how righteous we believe our cause to be the result can only be suffering and death, and the eventual loss of the ideals with which we started.
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And Afghanistan has been more of a victim than most, both from invasion and from its own people.
Aslam's third novel is about the victims of the latest round of troubles to beset this land that seems to have been fought over more than most.
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It is the country at the crossroads of East and West, where the Great Game is played out. As one character says early in the narrative: "The entire world it seemed had fought in this country, had made mistake in this country, but mistakes had consequences and he didn't know who to blame for those consequences. Afghanistan itself, Russia, the United States, Britain, Arabia, Pakistan?"
There are no good guys, no black and white all are varicoloured.
This is the story of people caught up in something not of their making, grand historical events and grand gestures fought over what?
Left alone people of different religions and ethnic backgrounds usually manage to get along, but put a politician or a religious zealot among them and all sorts of mayhem ensues. For genocide, all that is required is someone who believes they are right.
The Wasted Vigil is about people like the Western doctor Marcus, who has lived most of his life in the country, and Lara, the Russian searching for a brother who deserted during the previous invasion, just two of the people whose lives have been fractured by a power elite who have no idea.
There is a restrained anger in this book and given the events of the past 10 years, it is not difficult for the reader's frustration to boil over when all your worst fears about what is happening in the world are confirmed.
Just don't read it while watching the news. There will be a tendency to throw it at the television when the next fatuous politician or religious leader starts telling you how to live your life.