The Wasted Vigil
Though world leaders continually misjudge their roles and responsibilities in dealing with Afghanistan, several writers are sharing valuable insights. Nadeem Aslam is one of them.
Now comes The Wasted Vigil (Knopf), Pakistani novelist Nadeem Aslam’s (Maps for Lost Lovers) new opus set in the present-day pressure cooker of Afghanistan with a cast that includes an American ex-spy doing some form of penance, a Russian woman looking for closure on her soldier brother’s story, and an expatriated British doctor whose Afghan wife was hideously murdered by the Taliban. Without off-putting didacticism, The Wasted Vigil is rife with the cruel facts that should viewed as billboard warnings against further foreign involvement in what I see as the Asian Balkans; no doubt these warnings will not be heeded. Which thankfully is not Aslam’s responsibilityall he did was create a hypnotic narrative with a palette of prose that illuminates people in trouble against the chiaroscuro of another benighted nation’s history.
Related to the above-mentioned work by Saira Shah, here is a clip from her illuminating television documentary Beneath the Veil.