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The Collaborator

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  41 reviews
It is Kashmir in the early 1990s and war has finally reached the isolated village of Nowgam close to the Pakistan border. Indian soldiers appear as if from nowhere to hunt for militants on the run. Four teenage boys, who used to spend their afternoons playing cricket, or singing Bollywood ballads down by the river, have disappeared one by one, to cross into Pakistan and jo ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published 2011 by Penguin Books Ltd
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Community Reviews

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Naveed Qazi
When Mirza Waheed did book reading sessions in Srinagar and New Delhi, people were astounded by the lingual beauty of his prose, some were even moved to such an affliction that they requested him to stop reading. It is the memory of anguish which allowed them to do so. Kashmir has been a subject of savagery, a prisoner of fallacious hegemony and political chaos. The politics of Kashmir enchants putrefaction, and writings on the conflict in mainstream literature can help in gleaming all those unc ...more
Cat Townsend
The Collaborator is a chilling tale of life on the India - Pakistan border in 1990s Kashmir.

Being immersed in this devastating conflict for only the few days I spent reading this book, I can't imagine how the author maintained any sense of normality during what must have been a lengthy research and writing period. Let alone how Kashmiris who lived through such horrid events ever managed to get back on with their lives.

If I had thought about it while reading, I probably would have made a mental n
It was the summer of 2008. We were tightly packed in an old beat up Mazda 929 as it hobbled up and down the jaunty road of Rawalakot (Azad Kashmir) leading to Hajira. I was visiting North with my family to kill the summer heat and there was no better place to be than at Rawalakot, a cool bustling city near the outskirts of Muzaffarabad. As we rode the rusty creaking car to the nearest village to the LoC, the rain overcame us and by the time we reached, a dread had already crept into each of our ...more
Issy Bell
If this book was not our book club read I would not finished it. It took to chapter 13 before the writer engaged me. At that point things started to happen and I began to feel for the characters and the village. The story is intense, interesting, and very sad and the author did get under my skin, however the ending was a big let down for me. I thought I had missed something and re-read the last two chapters again! I think there was possibly a good story to be told and felt it was let down with o ...more
3.5/5. Good but way short of the class of Khaled Hosseini. The start of terrorism (early 90s) in Kashmir is told from the POV of a 17 year old boy living in a border village. Having read Rahul Pandita, Basharat Peer, Kamleshwar etc on Kashmir, A few questions that came up in my mind :-
A) The valley was largely peaceful till the end of 1980s. Did Talibani fundamentalism get imported into Kashmir from Afghanistan via Zia-ul-Haq's radical Pakistan ? Why did 'freedom fighters' kill civilians mostly
This novel is narrated by an unnamed young man, the son of a headman in a small predominantly Muslim village in Indian controlled Kashmir in the early 1990s, whose four closest childhood friends have crossed the border into Pakistan to become freedom fighters after brutal government reprisals against the separatist movement. After a particularly violent crackdown by the Indian Army, the young man is "encouraged" by the local army captain and his humiliated and defeated father to work as a specia ...more
Huzaafa Yousuf
Reading this book is like having a bad dream, a very bad dream. And the nightmare is only made worse by the realization that waking up won't make things any better-- because despite being painted in the colours of fiction, it is all real. It has already happened. Here. In Kashmir.In ways similar, or different, or worse.

The prose is dark and intense. The unnamed protagonist, with his flawed character, now courageous, now cowardly and yet, always human... a soul who now has friends only in his mem
This book is the anti-Jerry Maguire: it lost me at 'hello'. I couldn't get into this almost from the first line. Too wordy, and despite the subject matter, strangely unengaging. I just felt like maybe it was trying too hard. I feel bad for not caring, but I really didn't. Loathed this one.
Unlike most opinion pieces, books and stories about Kashmir, this novel doesn't come from a Pakistani or an Indian author. It comes from a Kashmiri who has witnessed the plight of his people firsthand and weaves a poignant tale to depict the pain and the suffering.
I have finished the novel just as India has upped its rhetoric on Kashmir and Pakistan is gearing up for another bout of proxy Jihad in the region. Sadly, once again, Kashmir and Kashmiris figures nowhere in attempts for a viable solut
A dark, passionately angry account of the human cost of the war for Kashmir. The unfolding horrors are seen through the eyes of a young boy growing up in a lush valley near Kashmir’s Line of Control between India and Pakistan, among corpses, army crackdowns, gunfire and fear.

Mirza Waheed is a Kashmiri now living and working in London. His first novel, The Collaborator, is written with a barely veiled rage and hatred toward the Indian army and its political masters who set military policy in Kash
Varun Kashyap
Mirza Waheed's depiction of Kashmir is beautiful. The anguish felt by Kashmiris , their struggle for freedom hijacked for insurgency and made into militancy , its all there and moves you. I loved and related to everything about Kashmir, felt the pain of the locals and could empathize with their cause . So far so good ..
However, the plot is weak. Its more so towards India hatred - its fair or not thats different. I can understand the incursion of Indian army in a sleepy village might not bring o
A disappointment indeed.
Poor story with lengthy, over written unnecessary descriptions which just so fail to grap reader's imagination. Real bad sketches of the characters, i hardly felt bad for anyone... despite those lengthy explanations, i still could not imagine any bond between the relationships.
It fails in engaging the reader from beginning till the end, what worse could be the scenario?
harrowing story based in both 1990's/modern day Kashmir with life on the line of control and the increasing disappearance of young boys to pakistan and increasing indian army movement well worth reading if you like the kite runner as in similar vein
Tried my best to like this book but I cannot force myself to appreciate a rather non engaging style of writing with an undertone of "I must tell a story for I am from Kashmir!".

Sadly, not completing this book.
Jon Browning
This book is a strange case of good story/ bad writing. It takes whole pages of description to say what could be said in a few sentences. The beginning is especially bad at this. Once the story picks up (around Part II) it gets better, but I just had a very hard time staying focused on the book as paragraph after paragraph bored me with overlong descriptions and dialogue that said almost nothing (and oftentimes the same nothing over and over).

Overall I think the story was very good but the book
Aug 28, 2014 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: india
Although I have put this on the India "shelf" it really belongs on a Kashmir shelf. (I read in a review that this is the first novel written from the Kashmiri point of view but hope that is not accurate.) This is a beautifully written book, and one of the saddest and most heart-breaking I've ever read. We follow the young adult narrator, a young man living in a Muslim village near the LOC (Line of Control) which is at the border of the - undeclared - war between India and Pakistan. His closest f ...more
Ayza Omar
The Collaborator is oh-so-depressing. It's depressing to me as a Pakistani sitting in the neighborhood of where the story of the anonymous narrator takes place because I can relate on many levels. Its the culture, the people, the conventional wisdom that emanates from some characters and the utter familiarity with the atrocities taking place. As for the atrocities, disclaimer here, to be fair, no I haven't seen my son dragged out of the house only to find him months later, almost disabled and ab ...more
Mark Staniforth
Mirza Waheed's 'The Collaborator' shines a light on the often forgotten Kashmiri conflict through the eyes of a teenage boy who grows up in the remote village of Nowgam on the disputed Line of Control.
Waheed tells a harrowing story of long-standing, senseless violence in a beautiful land of precipitous valleys and high peaks, "some shining, some white, some brown, like layers of piled up fabrics".
Born and brought up in Srinagar, Kashmir, the author handles such a sensitive subject well, framing
Frank Callaghan
This book made me dream each night. I found it harrowing in it's detail, and I assume in its accuracy of terrorism and war. It was however compelling, and the two main characters are intertwined in a most absorbing way. Totally different in their roles and background, their weird interdependence became fascinating. I loved all the parts about village life and family, and I especially liked the descriptions of the friends, who whilst being central characters to the tale, are never really in it af ...more
Rosanne Hawke
The Collaborator, by Mirza Waheed, an adult literary novel, tells the story of an un-named teenager living in a remote village in Kashmir near the Pakistan border. Indian soldiers are searching for terrorists, many young men flee and the teenager becomes a collaborator to survive. The novel sheds light on the mystery of missing men and boys and the unmarked mass graves, a result of the conflict in Kashmir.
The Collaborator is an unsettling read that allowed me to keep pace with the story despite overwhelming me at a few points. It is a book with few flashes of brilliance but the narrative is well constructed.
The situation in Kashmir is close to my heart having travelled there a few times and developed friendships with Kashmiris along the way.
I have read a few fiction and non fiction books on the conflict, this book is written from a different angle to previous books I have read.
The main character, a 19 year old man narrates his story over a two year period telling the story of how he became a collaborator, how his friends deserted him to travel across the border into Pakistan to become militants, h
Kathy Hiester
In The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed the unnamed narrator flashbacks to his tranquil and lighthearted childhood with his friends and family, before the selection of the anti-Muslim leader of Kashmir and the electoral deception that served as a trigger to the rebellion that led to conflict throughout the region. The villagers suffer great hardship and the narrator is torn between loyalty to his father, who wants his son to stay in the village, and his desire for revenge and justice for his friends ...more
Roz Dibley
Got this book out of the library as it was on Guardian First Book Awards List - difficult subject area but a book that has made me much more aware of the situation. It does one of those things that great novels do, inform and educate while you read more on a subject so that you come out the other end knowing more and enjoying the experience. I would recommend to anyone. Moreover, while listening to a BBC documentary, I had a much better understanding of w ...more
I was reading this book around the same time the stories of the mass graves in Kashmir were coming out--making the reading all the more chilling and timely. Mirza Waheed is able to discuss the horrors and ugliness of the Kashmiri reality over the past few decades without falling into the cliched tropes that this type of writing usually entails. The writing is raw and yet lyrical at the same time. A beautiful first novel from the author!
Mudasir beigh
The reality under the cover of fiction, which give the holistic view of overall impact of armed resistance on each and every aspect of life in kashmir during 90's.parting from loved ones,pain of loosing the beloved,agony of seeing at raped daughters of valley,shame which when respected elders were being disrespected. wonderful articulation of events which takes back to 90's
A beautifully rendered novel about Kashmir, Waheed's narrative humanizes a story that is often silenced. More importantly, the novel presents wonderfully flawed characters, especially the protagonist, that forces the reader to reflect. A great novel to read for pleasure and for the classroom.
Azad Essa
Mirza is part poet-part, part philosopher, but mostly biographer of his home Kashmir in a fictional form; it is an important addition to the growing pool of counter-narrative efforts in a long tale of abuse, trauma suffered by Kashmiris, that has until now been kept under the radar.
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Mirza Waheed was born and brought up
in Kashmir. His debut novel, The Collaborator, was an international bestseller, was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award and the Shakti Bhat Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. It was selected by Waterstones as part of its big literary debut promotion, ‘Waterstones 11’. It was also book of the year for The Telegraph, New Statesman, Finan
More about Mirza Waheed...
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“There were people dying everywhere getting massacred in every town and village, there were people being picked up and thrown into dark jails in unknown parts, there were dungeons in the city where hundreds of young men were kept in heavy chains and from where many never emerged alive, there were thousands who had disappeared leaving behind women with photographs and perennial waiting ,there were multitudes of dead bodies on the roads, in hospital beds, in fresh martyrs' graveyards and scattered casually on the snow of mindless borders.” 11 likes
“ The dusk here does not arrive on the shoulders of golden sunsets any more, but on the heels of long, encroaching shadows of untraceable trees in the distance, gloomy parallel patterns that cascade over the undulating landscape of unevenly dispersed corpses and other things.” 5 likes
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