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The Collaborator

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3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  425 Ratings  ·  51 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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The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky by Manan KapoorThe Tree with a Thousand Apples by Sanchit GuptaCurfewed Night by Basharat PeerOur Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul PanditaThe Collaborator by Mirza Waheed
Kashmir
21 books — 21 voters
Curfewed Night by Basharat PeerThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiEscape from Camp 14 by Blaine HardenRise  by Tarek ShahinCinder by Marissa Meyer
Amnesty List
17 books — 8 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Naveed Qazi
Jun 04, 2011 Naveed Qazi rated it really liked it
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
Sep 17, 2011 Cat Townsend rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, life
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
...more
Nazish
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
Sash Chiesa
Mar 15, 2017 Sash Chiesa rated it really liked it
Shelves: koshur
Kashmir is the eyes of a mother forced to helplessly witness her son being tortured and dragged away into the night, it's the footsteps of a schoolboy that could not find their way back home, it's the hours when innocence gets wasted playing Army vs. Militants, it's the heart of a girl whose lover has crossed over to Pakistan to become a militant, it's the ego that receives a blow each time the body is frisked, it's the youth that idolizes Hizbul Mujahideen, it's the father who is stripped off h ...more
Issy Bell
May 01, 2012 Issy Bell rated it did not like it
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
Hafsa
Oct 16, 2011 Hafsa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, kashmir
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!
Huzaafa Yousuf
Jul 17, 2014 Huzaafa Yousuf rated it it was amazing
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
...more
M
Dec 12, 2014 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Darryl
Mar 30, 2011 Darryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Arvind
Sep 07, 2014 Arvind rated it liked it
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
...more
Ian
Jun 14, 2012 Ian rated it it was ok
Shelves: war, a-kindle
This was a real disappointment. I was hoping for a balanced novel about the separatist struggle for Kashmir, that could provide an explanation of the history of the continuing conflict between India and Pakistan. However although it shed some light and was often heart-rending and brutal in detail in relation to the oppression of Kashmiri Muslims by India, it's portrayal of the central teenage character too often read as a simplistic YA novel that was naive and just far too one sided politically. ...more
Kathy Hiester
Nov 15, 2011 Kathy Hiester rated it it was amazing
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
Salman
Dec 09, 2014 Salman rated it really liked it
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
...more
Sunny
Feb 16, 2013 Sunny rated it did not like it
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?
Marcy
Mar 24, 2012 Marcy rated it really liked it
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.
Stephen
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
MNLO
Jun 16, 2017 MNLO rated it did not like it
Maybe it was the wrong time for me: http://bit.ly/2sa2yRq
Bookmuseuk
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
...more
Mark Staniforth
Oct 21, 2011 Mark Staniforth rated it liked it
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
...more
Ayza Omar
Feb 11, 2012 Ayza Omar rated it it was amazing
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
Poonam
Jun 09, 2012 Poonam rated it it was ok
I couldn't recommend this book to anyone to read. This book is a shadow of what it could have been. 50 pages down the book, it doesn't seem like that writer is interested in telling a story. The narrator, a nameless boy, son of sarpanch of a Kashmiri village in Nowgown, has been employed by Captain Kadian of Indian army, presumably against his will, to scour the dead bodies of infiltrators and collect their weapons and ID cards. Narrator's family is the only one living in their village since eve ...more
Susan
Aug 28, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
Varun Kashyap
Jun 16, 2015 Varun Kashyap rated it it was ok
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
...more
Frank Callaghan
Sep 02, 2013 Frank Callaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Happy
Mar 10, 2013 Happy rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jon Browning
Apr 27, 2015 Jon Browning rated it liked it
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
...more
Roz Dibley
Dec 07, 2011 Roz Dibley rated it it was amazing
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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00lskff, I had a much better understanding of w ...more
Rosanne Hawke
Jul 27, 2014 Rosanne Hawke rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-asian
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.
Sheikh Waseem
Aug 22, 2015 Sheikh Waseem rated it really liked it
I can easily understand why so many Indians dont like this book. This book tells the pain that India has made Kashmiris to go through. Kashmir now has evolved to tell its story itself and not by that bollywood trash. It is a story of Kashmir by Kashmir. Anyone anyhow related to Kashmir must read this book. Literary quality is upto the mark. You can though call it unengaging for first few chapters.
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4419372
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 a book of the year for The Telegraph, New Statesman, Fin
...more
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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.” 12 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.” 7 likes
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