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From the author of Maps for Lost Lovers, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Aslam’s exquisite first novel, the powerful story of a secluded Pakistani village after the murder of its corrupt and prominent judge.
Judge Anwar’s murder sets the people of the village on edge. Their anxieties are compounded when a sack of letters, thought lost in a train crash nineteen years ago, suddenly reappears under mysterious circumstances. What secrets will these letters bring to light? Could the letters shed any light on Judge Anwar’s murder? As Aslam traces the murder investigation over the next eleven days, he explores the impact that these two events have on the town’s inhabitants—from Judge Anwar’s surviving family to the journalist reporting on the delivery of the mail packet. With masterful attention to detail and beautiful scenes that set the rhythms of daily life in Pakistan, Aslam creates a lush and timeless world—played out against an ominous backdrop of religious tensions, assassinations, changing regimes, and faraway civil wars.
“Genuinely exciting. . . . This is one of the most impressive first novels of recent years.” —Salman Rushdie
“[Aslam] has emerged as one of the most exciting and serious British novelists writing now.” —Colm Tóibín
“A model of compact unadorned storytelling.” —The Observer (London)
“A real treat.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“Aslam quietly captures his country’s oppressive past and the ferocity of its religious schisms.” —The Independent (London)
“Aslam lovingly explores the daily rhythms and beauties of the Islamic life of his youth, while providing insight into the turbulent modern history of his native land.” —Publishers Weekly
“Extraordinary. . . . Aslam has created a novel which—grave yet exultant, brutal but compassionate—achieves its complex humanity, and its final affirmations of love and beauty, through a real reckoning with despair and heartbreak.” —Pankaj Mishra, New York Review of Books
“Richly atmospheric . . . engagingly introspective. . . . Aslam reveals—artfully and heartbreakingly—a psychology at war with itself.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Stylistically dazzling, full of poetic, richly descriptive and tender passages. . . . His characters’ inner lives are explored in-depth, flaws and all. . . . A novel as affecting as it is provocative.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review