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The Blind Man's Garden

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,489 ratings  ·  261 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
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

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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,489 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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Mj L
Feb 25, 2013 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
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 27, 2014 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
May 12, 2014 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
Jun 16, 2013 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. 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
Feb 25, 2013 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 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
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
Loraine Despres
Jul 07, 2014 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
Jan 07, 2013 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
A haunting tale of the impact of the American reaction to 9/11 told through the stories of two young Pakistani men who go to Afghanistan with the naive idea of working in a medical centre. They are handed over to the Taliban who plan to use them as new fighters. Their stories are alternated with their families back in their small home town and in the nearby city of Peshawa.
To be in this region is dangerously ambiguous with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, warlords, American special forces, Pakistani Secre
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kobo
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
Manjul Bajaj
Jan 24, 2013 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
Jan 07, 2013 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 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
Saraswathi Sambasivan
Apr 25, 2015 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.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been on hold for this author's more recent work, got tired of waiting and tried this one to get a taste of the writing reviewers seems to admire. It is partly lyrical with mystical elements but is also halted in some sequences. It could be that I was trying to turn a blind eye to the more difficult passages exhibiting suffering in Afghanistan, a possible cause of my reaction to some phrasings at times. I know I should keep his more recent book on my Hold list, but I may have to change my ...more
Ubik 2.0
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 02, 2015 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
Mar 23, 2013 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
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
Jan 20, 2016 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.
Jun 16, 2014 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.
Sakshi Shioramwar
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rohan, while gradually loses his sight of the physical world around him, he begins to see and reflects on his past. His wife from the past is described as vividly as much Rohan loves her.
Jeo and Mikal, the blood-brothers, torn in their longing for Naheed, their conflicts both internal and exterior form the imagery of the unfulfilled, distorted, dystopia swamping them in Pakistan and Afghanistan. All this while, the man of bird snare catchers and death keep showing at the gate of Rohan’s present
Vivek Tejuja
Jan 11, 2013 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
Jun 10, 2015 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,
Apr 19, 2013 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
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is poetic, bold and direct. Not many words wasted throughout. The author doesn't insinuate any belief system or opinions on the reader just throws it ALL in with the kitchen sink. I was overwhelmed with all of the concepts, but appreciated him playing both sides of the fence. Just some of the concepts were the husband who denied his wife medication expediting her death so that she would be a better muslim, the conflict between jihad and main stream-muslims, poverty used against a peopl ...more
Danial Tanvir
Nov 23, 2016 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.
Mar 05, 2016 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
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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
“History is the third parent.” 12 likes
“There are no innocent people in a guilty nation.” 12 likes
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