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The Blind Man's Garden

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  1,233 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
The acclaimed author of The Wasted Vigil now gives us a searing, exquisitely written novel set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11: a story of war, of one family’s losses, and of the simplest, most enduring human impulses.

Jeo and Mikal are foster brothers from a small town in Pakistan. Though they were inseparable as children, their adult lives have d
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Knopf (first published 2013)
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Kanishk Singh That's exactly what i felt! It should have ended then and there. Those three extra pages did not help. Though they didn't made the book less perfect,…moreThat's exactly what i felt! It should have ended then and there. Those three extra pages did not help. Though they didn't made the book less perfect, just added to momentary confusion.
But now i think that the last chapter justifies the title of the book.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mj L
Feb 25, 2013 Mj L rated it it was ok


He spoke at the Lahore Literary Festival a few days back at the launch of this book. When narrating how he had to tape his eyes over for a few weeks to write about a character who was going blind, he said something along the lines of:
But you understand why I had to do it? I had no choice. I couldn't ask all those intimate questions of a blind person. I had to live it.
Very understandable but only a little way into the book, I could not shake off the feeling that something was amiss. Going over th
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 27, 2014 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it really liked it
This is a complex book, filled with complex emotions. "Nuanced" doesn't come close to describing its portrayal of fundamentalist Islamist fervour and the various forces and interpretations within Islam that in many ways define it, and also attempt to balance it [ultimately ineffectually? not sure], but in the end, must simply survive it.

The same nuance and complexity emerge with respect to the use of torture, the oppression of women, or just about any other issue raised in this novel of post-9/1
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jo
May 12, 2014 jo rated it it was amazing
nadeem aslam is a treasure to the world and everyone should read him. his writing is simply fantastic -- i think i liked the writing in The Wasted Vigil better, but probably one would like best the one one reads first. the writing's fullness and ornatedness -- the riches of adjectives, similes, metaphors, imagery, and occasionally magic -- has reminded better readers than i of urdu and of the ancient poetic tradition of islam. here's an eloquent passage from manjul bajaj's lovely review in Outlo ...more
Marla
Jun 16, 2013 Marla rated it it was amazing
There are books that I can breeze through, not thinking much, just allowing myself to be entertained. This is probably the majority of books for me. Within 20 pages, I felt off-kilter. I soon realized The Blind Man's Garden was the OTHER kind of book, the book that demands your full attention and engages you fully. Read.every.word.no.skimming. The kind of book where you don't stop to feed yourself or answer the phone, where you just wander from bed, to couch, to chair...occasionally changing the ...more
Ali
Feb 25, 2013 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read each of Nadeem Aslam’s previous novels with great enjoyment, I bought this one in hardback almost as soon as it was released. His novel Maps for Lost Lovers – which took Aslam ten years to write – I’ve read twice and it remains one of my favourite modern novels. Aslam’s last novel The Wasted Vigil which is also set in Afghanistan – I enjoyed – but found the message ultimately hopeless, I wondered therefore what this one would be like. Having read Aslam before I knew I wasn’t in for a ...more
Audrey Chin
Sep 19, 2013 Audrey Chin rated it it was amazing
I read this book because I'll be on a panel at Singapore Writer's Festival with this prize-winning author.

It's another of those fraught narratives about Afghanistan. I don't think I would have finished the book if not for feeling duty bound to do so because of the panel.

Like Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, Aslam offers us a very well-drawn view of a society and mind-set that many of us wouldn't otherwise get to experience. My problem was that the writing was too good and made me feel
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Booknblues
The Blind Man's Garden is a multi-layered book of great complexity which deals with issues of culture, family and religion in a manner to help the reader understand the delicate nature and intricacy of the web these themes create in our world. I am thrilled to discover Nadeem Aslam, the second Pakistani author whom I have fallen in love with this year. Like Exit West's author Mohsin Hamid Aslam write wonderful prose which must be savored.

Aslam begins the book:

History is the third parent.

As Roh
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Loraine Despres
Jul 07, 2014 Loraine Despres rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Islam, the people of Pakistan, or our wars in Moslem countries
When I finished reading Nadeem Aslam's MAPS FOR LOST LOVERS I felt as if I'd lost a friend, so I downloaded THE BLIND MAN'S GARDEN. The prose is gorgeous in both books, but less dense here and I prefer that. THE BLIND MAN'S GARDEN is the story of the war in Afghanistan as viewed by a cultured, middle-class family in Pakistan. We meet all sides, the medical student son who just wants to take care of the wounded. The young wife he leaves behind, his father, a good, decent man whose religion means ...more
Beverly
Jan 07, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it
I already knew that Aslam is a remarkable storyteller but I was unprepared for the ranges of emotions his elegant lyrical prose will evoke within me from page one until the very last page. Story takes place in Pakistan and Afghanistan right after 9/11, when emotions, outrage, rumors, the need for answers were high. The Blind Man’s Garden deftly handles the themes of ordinary people surviving in a world where power and control are continually shifting yet life has to one with grace and intelligen ...more
Manjul Bajaj
Jan 24, 2013 Manjul Bajaj rated it it was amazing
Nadeem Aslam’s prose creates an effect very similar to that described as pentimento in painting, where images or elements that have been completely painted over by the artist become visible, revealing an earlier design trapped under the layers of the present work. There is a translucence to the author’s English which reveals an under layer of Urdu. Seeping out from beneath the grammar and syntax of his perfectly polished adopted tongue is the melancholy and ache of Urdu’s vivid images and startl ...more
Teresa
Jan 07, 2013 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Blind Man’s Garden is a novel which rewards attentive reading and one in which the reader savours every word. It is the story of a Pakistani family torn apart in the aftermath of 9/11. Foster-brothers Jeo and Mikal hope to make a difference to the plight of Afghan civilians by helping those wounded in the ongoing conflict but their altruistic ambitions are thwarted when they fall into the hands of an Afghan War Lord. Meanwhile, at home in Pakistan, their father Rohan has to deal with Taliban ...more
Faisal  Buzdar
Apr 03, 2013 Faisal Buzdar rated it it was ok
You do not expect dramatic twists and weird coincidences at frequent intervals in literary fiction, unless it is magical realism you are dealing with. The Blind Man's Garden, on the contrary, abounds with bizarre happenings and mind-blowing coincidences. It is as if you are watching an ordinary Hollywood/Bollywood/Lollywood movie. Also, at times, the author sounds quite orientalistic, as there is a lot of stereotyping and presumption involved in it. In addition to a few main characters, most of ...more
Erin
Sep 17, 2014 Erin rated it it was ok
Honestly, I kept abandoning this book in favour of others on my Kobo because it was quite difficult to get into. I believe that it was the narrative style in the writing or quite possibly the cookie cutter characters that threw me. I felt that I had to really push myself to see this book through til the end.

I would have to say that if the author had taken part 3 of the book and built a storyline about a Pakistani man who is a wanted Taliban fugitive and an injured American Special Forces offic
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Saraswathi Sambasivan
Apr 25, 2015 Saraswathi Sambasivan rated it really liked it
A very poignant book that travels through the war-torn lands. The book left me wondering about the futility of war- families torn apart by war and strife. The story unfolds through the travels of Mikal-the despair and hope of a man who wants to do no harm. Overall, a very good read- a bit slow at times, but beautifully written.
Ubik 2.0
Il giardino del cieco

Fosse stato uno dei soliti romanzi di guerra post-11 settembre, il ruolo di protagonista sarebbe stato assegnato a David Town, l’ufficiale del governo Usa che conduce l’interrogatorio dei sospetti, oppure all’altro americano, l’ostaggio di cui non sapremo mai il nome.

Invece il protagonista non è Town che ben presto esce di scena, bensì proprio il giovane pakistano lacero, mutilato e reticente che l’ufficiale si trova di fronte in catene, perché questo è un romanzo particolar
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Manish
Mar 23, 2013 Manish rated it liked it

To my relief, in 'The Blind Man's Garden', Aslam has succeeded in toning down his vivid imagination and focusing more on the story he plans to tell. (unlike what he did with the 'Maps for Lost Lovers'). In this novel set in the immediate days after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Mikal accompanies his foster brother Jeo to Afghanistan from Pakistan on a humanitarian mission. Things immediately go awry with Jeo ending up murdered and Mikal being captured. After a series of exchanges betwe
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Terri Jacobson
May 28, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written, powerful, wonder of a book. Part of it is the story of 9/11 and the "war on terror" as seen from a Muslim point of view. And part of it is the story of a close-knit Muslim family and how they cope with the changes in their world. The author, Nadeem Aslam, has written several major books and has won numerous awards. After reading this book, I can certainly see why. The prose is musical, lyrical, a real pleasure to read. The story is compelling and suspenseful. The c ...more
Jackie
This is an atmospheric and heart wrenching view of what the aftermath of 9/11 was for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It focuses on one family, but the story it tells explains a part of the world that we know so little about at the day top day family level. Everything is in there--the poverty, the richness of life, family, war, peace, religion, traditions, education, Taliban, pride, guilt, life, death and, above all, survival. The prose is very lyrical, boarding on poetic, but that does ...more
Laura
Jan 20, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tekisi mieli lukea tämä heti uudestaan. Ei siksi, että se oli maagisen hyvä, vaan siksi että en ole ihan varma luinko tämän todella huonosti vai oliko tämä todella huono. Sisään siihen en ainakaan missään vaiheessa päässyt, juoni oli todella keksityn ja päälleliimatun oloinen, henkilöhahmot todella yksipuolisia ja etenkin naishahmot jopa ärsyttävän huonoja. No, oma tämä on, joten jos joskus tuntuu, että sille voisi antaa toisen mahdollisuuden, on se ainakin saatavilla.
Hugh
Jun 16, 2014 Hugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2014
Alternately lyrical and brutal, this is a powerful and visceral story of life in modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan. The central love story is contrasted with accounts of the reality of war and of life inside extremist organisations. This does not always make for pleasant reading, but it is poetic in places and very moving in others.
Vivek Tejuja
Jan 11, 2013 Vivek Tejuja rated it it was amazing
When you read a Nadeem Aslam novel, you mull over it. You take in his words and breathe what he has to say. You are aware of the political undertones in his books. At times, you also may not like what you read. You might also detest some parts. You will yell in happiness when something good happens to one of his characters. You want to keep the book aside and you will not be able to, because that is the power of his books. You will ignore everything else and read on, because Aslam has a story to ...more
Ev
Jun 10, 2015 Ev rated it it was amazing
This is possibly the most beautiful book I have read. I was hesitant and annoyed as I began, until I realized it was simply a reaction to the unwonted emotion it was provoking within me.

Tangent: I believe the author, Nadeem Aslam, totally knows how to traverse between two worlds and woo British ladies at various and exponential, promotional cocktail hours - whereby he is an under-the-radar guest of honor, sincerely weaving his way into their naive pants like a water moccasin. He seems sumptuous,
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Shaji
Dec 02, 2015 Shaji rated it really liked it
You know those lazy Sunday afternoons when you're slumped in front of your television wondering if you should take a quick nap or wash the car, and boom...a bomb has just gone off in Pakistan, injuring and killing a lot of Muslims, innocent bystanders, women and children included.

Yet you feel nothing, probably because you've seen this before, again and again, and you've also seen enough footage of what seems like crazed Muslims, Pakistani men, women and children, burning American and British fla
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Jonathan
Apr 19, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was great. It is set in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the months following 9/11. The story begins when Jeo and Mikhal leave Pakistan to join in the war in Afghanistan, one to help with the wounded, the other to fight. They leave behind members of their family who are unaware of their reasons for leaving until after they are gone. Almost from the beginning things go wrong for the young men, and at home problems begin to arise for the rest of the family.

The book is very well constructed, fa
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Danial Tanvir
Nov 23, 2016 Danial Tanvir rated it it was amazing
this is actually the fourth Nadeem Aslam novel that i have read and i liked it.
it is about two foster brothers who belong to a small remote town in pakistan and this is based after 9/11.

they are Joe and Mikal.


they they decide to go to Afghanistan not to support the Taliban or any thing else but to just help and take care of the people who are injured and have to suffer a lot due to the war,destruction and all the bad things that happen in war.

the details given about Afghanistan are just lovely.
t
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Bharath Ramakrishnan
Mar 05, 2016 Bharath Ramakrishnan rated it it was ok
The story is set in the difficult times around 9/11 and had a lot of possibilities. However, while it takes up the issue of prejudices and extremism, it does so at a very shallow level. The characters are not well fleshed out and it is difficult to understand why they act the way they do. It is unclear what is the motivation for Jeo and Mikal to suddenly leave for Afghanistan. Similarly, in the face of imminent danger, Rohan picks quarrels rendering him blind. There is a good amount of realism w ...more
Suzanne
Feb 02, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it


This was my first Aslam novel which came highly recommended and I was not disappointed. The brutality of the war in Afghanistan after 9/11 makes this book a hard read but the beautiful, lyrical writing carries you on the tragic journey of one family trying to survive and still be true to their own morals dispute the violence surrounding them. Aslam manages to convince as to the motivations of all his characters, no matter what side of the war they are on. His descriptions of the landscape and t
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Mark Lederer
Mar 28, 2015 Mark Lederer rated it it was amazing
I found this book compelling and wrenching. It brings the reader vividly right into the gray area that, I believe, many Muslims live in -- resenting Western countries and fearing extremists. The characters try to find their way down that middle path they find it exceeding difficult. The writing uses effective imagery and I found myself drawn into the characters and their lives in a way that I cared about what happened to them. I left feeling like I understood just a little of the dilemma faced b ...more
Ka Vee
Jun 21, 2016 Ka Vee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
geen gemakkelijk boek, wel erg mooi, met adembenemende beschrijvingen van woestijn, bomen en bloemen, geuren van Pakistan en Afganistan. Fantastisck ook hoe Aslam alle partijen in deze bloedstollende oorlog toch nooit van hun menselikheid ontdoet. Stemt werkelijk tot anders denken en bijstellen van meningen en oordelen... Absoluut aan te raden !
Ming
Oct 27, 2012 Ming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His writing is simply beautiful. Aslam has created again a story that is compelling, thought-provoking and humanizing. The construction of the story itself is amazing. It consists of awe-inspiring twists and layers of meaning. I thoroughly enjoyed this prismatic portrayal of a search and a journey for survival and for meaning in the chaos of war.
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Play Book Tag: The Blind Man's Garden by Nadeem Aslam - 5 stars 4 7 Jul 05, 2017 12:52PM  
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Aslam was born in Pakistan in 1966 and moved to Britain at age 14. His family left Pakistan to escape President Zia's regime.

His novel Maps for Lost Lovers, winner of the Kuriyama Prize, took him more than a decade to complete. Aslam has stated that the first chapter alone took five years to complete, and that the following story in the book took seven months to complete before rejecting it. At th
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“History is the third parent.” 13 likes
“There are no innocent people in a guilty nation.” 11 likes
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