Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Maps For Lost Lovers -- Reviews at LBC

Three of the Lit Blog Coop (LBC) bloggers have reviewed Nadeem Aslam's Maps For Lost Lovers. It's one of five books nominated for their "Read This!" series.

C. Max Magee (of The Millions)

Sam Jones (of Golden Rule Jones)

Our Girl in Chicago (of About Last Night)

If you only have time to read one of the three, the review that is the most detailed and dense is Our Girl In Chicago's. Her most thought-provoking paragraph, I think, is the following:

Aslam is great at unearthing rich psychologies like Kaukab’s in an emotionally potent way; he’s great at interiors. But that’s a bit misleading, since another distinction of his novel is the way it reflexively looks outward to see in: a great deal of what we know about the characters is divined through detailed representations of the world as they see it. The thickly descriptive style through which Aslam achieves this will, I imagine, prove overly rich for some readers. Seven metaphors and similes on the first page alone sounds alarming, doesn’t it? But—apart from the fact that many of them are stunning—metaphoric language is more than a vehicle here, and certainly more than just ornament. It’s close to being a provisional philosophy.

OGIC hints at a criticism made by some readers of Aslam that I've talked to -- his prose borders on preciosity -- while also offering him an 'out'. It's his intense interest in the interior life of his characters, she implies, that explains the high metaphorical density: there's a consistency there to be ascertained.

Or at least that's what it looks like from here. I'm a little embarrassed that I've had this book on the shelf since mid-summer, and still haven't read it. Well, I've got a conference in Chicago coming up next week, so maybe I'll get started on it while waiting in airports/on the plane.

(Incidentally, if any readers in Chicago are free that weekend and want to meet up for coffee/tea, drop me an email.)

12 comments:

Rani said...

The first time I had heard of Nadeem Aslam was at the SALTAF conference in D.C. a few weeks ago. Can you believe it? Me, who reads at least 3 books a week! How embarrassing! Anyways, thanks for all these links. I bought the book soon after the festival and hope to read it soon. (I am in the midst of rereading Lolita right now. I lurve Nabakov. I can read him over and over and over again.) Did you read Aslam’s first novel, Season of the Rainbirds?

Amardeep said...

Rani,

You know, I haven't read the first novel either. At least with Aslam's first novel I have the excuse that it was never released in the U.S. I gather he's, er, come a long way since that early effort...

Let me know if you get around to Maps For Lost Lovers. Indeed, if you feel like writing/posting a review somewhere, I would be honored to have you guest-post it here.

Mrudula said...

This is the first time I've heard of Nadeem Aslam. I'm a compulsive reader and I'm a wee bit embarrassed that I haven't heard of him at all! Would you be able to recommend a book by him?

Amardeep said...

Mrudula,

Well, Maps for Lost Lovers has gotten a lot of attention this year, especially in the UK. I suppose Nadeem Aslam is this year's Monica Ali...? Something like that.

I realize I even mentioned him on this blog during the summer. At that point I thought it was only a matter of days before I sat down with the book.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sam said...

Thanks for the link, Amardeep. I just posted a follow-up to my initial comments:

http://lbc.typepad.com/blog/2005/10/maps_for_lost_l.html

Chicago - very cool. Shoot me an email if you want to try to connect. Also note that the Chicago Humanities Fest is continuing that weekend, with many sessions of literary interest:

http://www.chfestival.org/fest2005/

I'll probably catch Sebastian Barry and a couple more.

Sadly, the Kriti Festival is not til the following week:

http://www.desilit.org/kriti.html

Have a good trip!

Mrudula said...

Thank you.

elizabeth said...

maps for last lovers was very good, i thought--yes, the language borders on the ornate side, but it's done beautifully, and moreover, didn't strike me as syrupy because of the harshness (anger, even) at the core of the story. the lush hyper-descriptiveness also created an interesting sense of location and displacement--this idea of dasht-e-tanhai in northern england.

it did get nominated for the bad sex award, but i thought the offending passage wasn't nearly as bad as the other contenders.

elizabeth said...

maps for last lovers was very good, i thought--yes, the language borders on the ornate side, but it's done beautifully, and moreover, didn't strike me as syrupy because of the harshness (anger, even) at the core of the story. the lush hyper-descriptiveness also created an interesting sense of location and displacement--this idea of dasht-e-tanhai in northern england.

it did get nominated for the bad sex award, but i thought the offending passage wasn't nearly as bad as the other contenders.

Anonymous said...

Really hated Maps for Lost Lovers and couldn't finish it. Claustrophobic focus on the annoying, religious conservative female character and corrosive shock-for-its-own-sake (flinging bodily fluids upon a parent's face).

lbc said...

You have a very informative blog. Keep up the good work.

missy

Anuradha Goyal said...

I loved this book for its language amongst many reasons...here is my review of it: http://www.anureviews.com/maps-for-lost-lovers-by-nadeem-aslam/