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Maps for Lost Lovers

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,406 Ratings  ·  326 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 England, they were lovers and living together out of wedlock. To Chanda’s family, however, the disgrace was unforgivable. Perhaps enough
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Vintage (first published June 24th 2004)
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Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I wished I had time to write a review. This book made me speechless. Really, go ahead and buy it. It is a treasure.
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pakistan
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
Nov 13, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are so many long, detailed reviews on here - glad to see this book has impacted others enough to comment at length, as well as me. Equally gripping and sad. It is densely descriptive and difficult to get into at first. Once the story unfolds it becomes difficult to put down. Another reviewer has said they felt they were living in the book and this is exactly how you feel. I felt every emotion for each character. I am surprised at myself for feeling pity for the townspeople for their ignora ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2002-05
One of my favourite books - a dark story of honour killing told in beautifully poetic language.
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Julie Christine
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.
Ghina Mehr
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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...
Mientras Leo
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toda una sorpresa, un libro llegado sin ser pedido, ni siquiera lo conocía y ha resultado una estupendísima lectura. Con poso
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Ana Ovejero
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Maps for Lost Lovers' portrays the story of the Pakistani community in an unknown city in England. Jugnu and his lover Chanda have a different relationship according to the small community's ideas: Jugnu is a single grown man and Chandra is a divor cee living together without marrying. Suddenly, they disappear and later Chandra's brothers are arrested for murder. The narration display the following twelve months, gradually disclosing the several lives of various characters which live in a betwee ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A touching story of Pakistani immigrants trying to navigate life in England against a he background of a primitive Muslim culture which careens through the lives of the characters in tragedy and moments of love.
I first read Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers almost four years ago, and it stuck in my mind as a beautiful and deeply troubling book. The "lost lovers" of the title are Jugnu and Chanda who have disappeared from their home in a nameless British city that its Pakistani immigrants have renamed the "Dasht-e-Tanhaii" (the desert of solitude). Although certain characters deny this possibility almost till the end of the novel, it seems obvious almost from the beginning that Jugnu and Chanda have b ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Ishaque  Abbas
Feb 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Never in my life I have read a book for which I have felt a strong urge to unread as much as I can, as soon as possible, as I did for this book. But alas there isn't any way to unread a book.

This book is a waste of time, waste of money and over all a yucky piece of garbage which is full of hypocritical characters who have mountain high moral values and really low, gutter level selfesteems. For instance, I find it really ironic that the most gentlemanly and high moral valued character of the st
Mohammed Riaz
Jan 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Natalia Pì
Dec 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, asia
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
Aug 24, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Mubeen Irfan
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Cannot rate it any higher as the writer was trying too much in one book. There are many social & religious issues that the writer has covered with broad sweeping statements. Also, did not like the setting in which the story takes place but that could be because I do not know the settings personally. It felt a small town punjab village and not an english town which was portrayed. Will not suggest it strongly to anyone.
Anveshi Gupta
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Poignant, heartwarming and sad, this novel displays moments of brilliant storytelling; the conflicted characters, their alienation, the dysfunctional family, and blanketing it all, this fatal and perpetual feeling of loneliness. However, it is in the confused writing and lack of focus at times, that the novel loses me!
Robyn Wright
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The language is so evocative that I had to keep re-reading whole sections for the pure enjoyment of immersing myself in the setting and characters. The first thing I will do after returning the book to my friend is to buy my own copy. I will be reading this many times.
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Forgotten Classic...: 8/17 Maps for Lost Lovers - General (Use Spoiler Tags) 20 20 Aug 30, 2017 12:43AM  
  • Kartography
  • Trespassing
  • A Golden Age
  • Havoc, in Its Third Year
  • Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
  • Bitter Fruit
  • The Crow Eaters
  • Desirable Daughters
  • Moth Smoke
  • The Keepers of Truth
  • The Faithful Scribe: A Story of Islam, Pakistan, Family, and War
  • Home Boy
  • Between Clay and Dust
  • The Blue Bedspread
  • Basti
  • Reef
  • The Collaborator
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...

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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.” 35 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.” 20 likes
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