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Maps for Lost Lovers

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,716 ratings  ·  250 reviews
If Gabriel García Márquez had chosen to write about Pakistani immigrants in England, he might have produced a novel as beautiful and devastating as Maps for Lost Lovers. Jugnu and Chanda have disappeared. Like thousands of people all over Enland, they were lovers and living together out of wedlock. To Chanda’s family, however, the disgrace was unforgivable. Perhaps enough ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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This is the kind of book that is best digested by biting off small bits and letting them melt in your mouth. The language is beautiful and the story is compelling. I would characterize it as something along the lines of Rohinton Mistry meets Zadie Smith meets Jane Austen. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Paul Bryant
To be concise - something Nadeem Aslam has never tried in his life - this novel is too


Mr Aslam's prose is more flowery than two trips to Kew Gardens (which consist of 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England, and is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and an internationally important botanical research and education institution with 700 staff and an income of 56
Naveed Qazi
I wished I had time to write a review. This book made me speechless. Really, go ahead and buy it. It is a treasure.
Jan 18, 2008 Phil rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Feminists and Imams everywhere
Recommended to Phil by: Christopher Hitchens
I've got to find some crappy books that I hated or even OK books that I struggled through. I'm giving everything five stars, but believe me, this beautiful and chilling book deserves it. I was listening to Hugh Hewitt interview Christopher Hitchens on the radio when he recommended this book in glowing terms. I went to Amazon and ordered.
The novel takes place in the Midlands of England among the Pakistani community of a small city. the novel is told from the point of view of Shamas, a middle-aged
This is one powerful Novel!

I would like to know the reaction of Muslims in Pakistan in regards to Nadeem's Aslam interpretation of Islam and tradition of Muhammad in "Maps for Lost Lovers."

There are many harsh accusations in this book. Each Character has his/her own story in this tight Islamic surrounding. I personally wanted to strangle Kaukab (the religious mother of the family) when she was breastfeeding her infant son, but she was also fasting because of Ramadan, and she decided that the inf
Nadeem Aslam gets into the psyche of a Pakistani immigrant family living in London and graphically creates the conflicts and tensions of the members that arise when traditional Islam comes face to face with Western norms of modernity,. Jugnu and Chanda are lovers who have been missing and presumed to be murdered by Chanda's brothers as retribution for living in sin. Jugnu's brother Shamas is a liberal community leader married to Kaukub - a woman torn between the literal words of the Quran and he ...more
I feel guilty for marking this book so low, so I do so with a disclaimer: I acknowledge that this is a wonderful book, but there were some things which hit my buttons and made me dislike it. I found every single character's deep level of self-pity irksome. This was something which only occurred to me towards the end, but there was something else which really did annoy me. The imagery was just ridiculous sometimes..I know what in writings by those from India, Pakistan, the sub-continent in genera ...more
The story was good, but the author had a negative tone throughout the whole book about his cultural background and continuously blamed everything on being Pakistani. It was frustrating reading this book especially when I didn't agree with the author's point of view at times.
Nadeem Aslam paints an amazing poetic landscape with his words....while telling the grim and horrifying reality of the lives of the Pakistani immigrants...who live upholding their faith---yet the tragedy of their lives is that it is this faith which lets them down. A moving tale of lost lives...
Bereft of their homeland, its customs and beauty, Pakistani immigrants in England navigate their new situation while trying desperately to hold on to what was once theirs. Kaukab and Shamas are polar opposites, she very devout and literally ignorant of the modern world. Her traditions and prejudices cause her to be hurt and to hurt her children and her husband, and unwittingly her brother-in-law. Shamas, her husband is so constrained by his poetic vision of the world that he cannot save himself ...more
Maps for Lost Lovers is deeply sad tale of Pakistani immigrants in England. Of people who come from a culture with deep rooted beliefs that are diametrically opposite to what the west holds. Of immigrants coming to an alien land with hope, only to lose everything they ever held dear, including things they would not have lost even in the poverty-stricken homeland they had left behind.

It is a book that has been carefully crafted in exquisite detail, and written in highly metaphorical prose that pa
Although the story is interesting and it is beautifully written, there are several mistakes about Islam. As in the Wasted Vigil, Aslam seems to make the statement that the practices (in the name of Islam) by uneducated Indians, Pakistanis and Afghans epitomize what Islam teaches, rather than inaccurate and cultural interpretations of misguided and self-serving 'clerics'. This is unfortunate, as I found the storyline and characters in this novel and the Wasted Vigil to be soulful and nuanced. I a ...more
I rarely rate books with 5 stars. That should tell you something. When I first started reading it, I thought that the poetic language was a bit over the top but now I'd like to go back and read some of those descriptions again.

This is a story about Pakistani immigrants in the UK. The main character is an older man, educated and open-minded. His wife, another important character, is a traditional religious Muslim. The story revolves around his brother's and girl friend's murders. They were kille
Ghina Mehr
Everything in this novel is at its extreme: beauty at its intense, love at its fiercest, grief at its peak. The book is really consuming,it will leave behind a void.I'm amazed at the way Aslam penned down some of the most disturbing things with such lyricism and ease, if the same weight would have been placed on a mountain it would have crumbled.
A difficult book. Simultaneously rather lovely and COMPLETELY MADDENING, and desperately in need of an editor - there are places where he repeats the same wildly flowery simile almost word for word within less than five pages, which would have been a mere single annoyance if not for the fact that this is hands down the most over-similed book I have ever read and most of them should have been pruned out ANYWAY. Characters can't walk down the street without three paragraphs of description about th ...more
Natalia Pì
Romanzo ricco, ricco di suggestioni, conflitti, malinconie, mi è piaciuto più di quanto mi aspettassi.
Ottima delineazione dei personaggi, in particolare di Shamas e Kaukab, che vengono dallo stesso paese, sono sposati da decenni, eppure vivono in universi mentali diametralmente opposti.
Ho apprezzato particolarmente le pagine su Kaukab: per come l'autore mostra le circonvoluzioni mentali di una madre che deve superare l'autonomia dei figli in una società che percepisce come straniera e a lei os
Mohammed Riaz
Well, it took me a while to get into it, but once on the inside, I was hooked. Aslam's characters are so well-constructed and have a depth that is remarkable. The only (minor) criticism I have of the style of writing is that it was, sometimes, overly florid, the metaphors and similes were, sometimes, a bit laboured.
This book comes from my world; immigrant parents trapped in a simulacrum of the life and culture they left in Pakistan in the 1960's. They are scared to bring down the walls they have
my favorite passage:

So, yes, come to the shop this afternoon, if you'd like to look over the books," he hears himself tell her again, desperately, before walking away. The moment of parting leaves in him an inarticulate ache. He is embarressed by the kind of impression he must have made on her -- someone comically desperate for company. He hasn't had a conversation with someone about the matters that interest him for a very long time. Talking to Kaukab is, for both of them, frequently another wa
It took me a few chapters to get into the story, because the beginning is so bogged down with metaphors, similes, and flashbacks. Once I started to learn more about the characters and get a handle on what the story actually was I read with much more enjoyment. However, pacing continued to be an issue as there would be a few chapters of good plot development, then a few chapters that descended into this semi-reality of tangential metaphors and similes. The author is very capable of ingenious figu ...more
As far as the plot goes, this is a very good book. Every person's story is inter connected to another resident of Dasht-e-tanhaii which is precisely how things work in any close knit community(epecially subcontinental ones).

However this means too many stories, although inter woven beautifully, crammed together to make a reader's head spin. Another major fault is that this book is too flowery, the descriptions too over whelming. Although it was nice to hear all the names of the spices and colors
Set among a Pakistani community in the Midlands ;), this is a tragic, poignant story of a culture clashing violently with itself. A young couple elope and are murdered, supposedly by members of their own close-knit community, possibly by their own families. The story reveals the inner thoughts, the alienation and struggles of Pakistani characters who are either trying to merge traditions with Western influences or prevent the acculturation of their community altogether. Beautifully written.
The writing is beautiful, the atmospheres are palpable, Nadeem Aslma made it possible to picture very clearly the different scenes. Everything is really poetic.
However, the subject is really dark. The situation of this Pakistani family, who now lives in England, is just getting worse and worse. Relations between people are never spontaneous because one should be careful about gossip, about ruining his/her reputation. I found this book to be a very strong critic of Islam, in religion in general a
Hauntingly beautiful. I wrote this after reading it:

"Every culture has this conception: the warding off of the evil eye, the touching of wood. Human beings know that everything they build is built on sand and made of dust. A person can no sooner conceive of his happiness than he imagines it stolen away. Consolation lies in another world, in which permanence replaces evanescence; a world established for believers by their god/s, or simply an impossibly distant place. (The people who live on the m
Senza alcun dubbio uno dei libri più belli che ho letto ultimamente.
Una scrittura eccezzionale, onirica, immaginifica. Aslam usa le parole come pennelli intinti di colore e crea dei mondi.
Undici anni gli ci sono voluti, ma non c'é una parola che non ha da esserci, uno sguardo, una carezza, ma anche la violenza, esercitata soprattutto sulle donne, inutili o superflui.
Jacqui Debono
I am not a Muslim nor an expert on Islam, therefore I cannot authenticate the beliefs and practices of Pakistani Muslims depicted in this novel. Perhaps it depends on the level of fanaticism. I read it with a western mindset and found myself shocked by many of the events in the story, most notably the killing of an unmarried couple whose cohabitation is believed to be the motive for their murder, probably at the hands of the woman's family. Notwithstanding the occasional culture shock I experien ...more
Infatuated with Light
A very random pick on my side, but again, I went to the library on Thursday, and Thursdays are notorious for unusual decisions. Never heard of Mr. Aslam until then.
By all means this is a book I should've hated. It is heavy on the imagery, but surprisingly enough, I didn't mind. Partly because Mr. Aslam manages it quite well, and because I was intrigued. This was a different layout from the other crime stories I red. The plot isn't action-packed, but I stayed glued to the book for three days, so
First-rate in every way. This highly poetic novel weaves the stories of a host of Muslim immigrants in England around the disappearance of an unmarried pair of lovers. The primary strands of the narrative concern the Aks family: skeptical paterfamilias Shamas, devoutly Muslim matriarch Kaukab, and their three grown children—-Charag, Mah-Jabin and Ujala. The extraordinarily rich and poetic prose fills in the back story for all of the characters in ways that allow the conflicts and long-held resen ...more
in this intricately woven novel, Aslam's voice is at once intimate and universal. the story centres around Shams and his family, who live in a Midlands town filled with South Asians who have transplanted a rigid version of their homeland culture. the catalyst is an honour killing and its effects are achingly and enduringly felt by Shams and his children; his wife Kaukub appears immoveable. Aslam has said in interviews that it took him 11 years to write this book as he locked himself in his flat ...more
Loraine Despres
Jul 01, 2014 Loraine Despres rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: To all serious readers
I read this book some years ago, racing through it for a book club, but the story has stayed with me. I keep thinking back to these people who let their religion--or their strict, fundamentalist interpretation of their religion--ruin their lives and take the life of two of the characters. The prose is beautiful. The first sentences are: "Shamas stands in the open door and watches the earth, magnet that it is, pulling snowflakes out of the sky towards itself. With their deliberate, almost-impaire ...more
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  • Trespassing
  • Kartography
  • A Golden Age
  • Havoc, in Its Third Year
  • Bitter Fruit
  • Between Clay and Dust
  • Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
  • Moth Smoke
  • Desirable Daughters
  • An American Brat
  • Haunting Bombay
  • The Blue Bedspread
  • Basti
  • Home Boy
  • The Keepers of Truth
  • I'll Go to Bed at Noon
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
More about Nadeem Aslam...
The Wasted Vigil The Blind Man's Garden Season of the Rainbirds The Exiles

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“Women joked amongst themselves: 'Why do you think a bride cries on her wedding day? It's for the love that this marriage is putting an end to for all eternity. Men may think a woman has no past- "you were born and then I married you"- but men are fools.” 31 likes
“There are times in this life when a person must do or say things he doesn't want to. Human beings and chains, it is the oldest acquaintanceship in the world.” 17 likes
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