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19 August 2009updated 27 Sep 2015 4:07am

“One has a duty to explore one’s place in the world”

Nadeem Aslam on optimism, orthodoxy and the origins of radicalism

By Seher Hussain


The Asia Literary Review has an illuminating interview with Nadeem Aslam, author of The Wasted Vigil and the Booker-nominated Maps for Lost Lovers. Along with a number of other writers who have focused on the question of Pakistan in their work recently, Aslam is known for wrestling with faith, fundamentalism and Muslim identity.

On the power of belief, he tells the ALR: “Not everything that is wrong in the Islamic world is the west’s fault. We must understand this. In the tribal areas of Pakistan they have hijacked people’s core beliefs and tried to link their brand of Islam to the true Islam.”

Yet he is cautiously hopeful. “The novel essentially is an optimistic form,” he says. “You cannot treat your characters too cruelly. The reader will feel a sense of betrayal. But I want to give a sense of the true complexity of life, to not lie and say life is simple.”

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For more on literature from Pakistan see the NS review of the “brassy, sassy, comic debut” by Mohammed Hanif, A Case of Exploding Mangoes.