Book Of The Year 2011: The Wandering Falcon

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December 9, 2011 by markstani

Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon (pub. Hamish Hamilton) follows the meanderings of a boy named Tor Baz – the Black Falcon – through a pre-Taliban, tribal landscape where the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran meet. Ahmad’s spare, precise prose gives life to a region known now as a place of terrorist hideouts and unmanned drones. As an insight into the region’s complex cultures and honour-bound societies, it is second to none. In its wider remit as an exploration of the indefatigability of the human spirit, it is just extraordinary. Read the full review here.

A thin trickle of water flowing down the Shaktu river demarcates the boundary between the Wazirs and the Mahsuds – the two predatory tribes of Waziristan. On either side of the river are narrow vertiginal banks where Wazir and Mahsud women look after ragged patches of corn. The river provides only a brief interruption. Where the fields end, the convolutions and whorls of bare, cruel rock once again resume their march across the land – occasionally throwing up spires and lances of granite into the sky.

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