Book Review: The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam (DNF)

The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem AslamAt a Dutch book bloggers’ meeting, two people named The Wasted Vigil as a favorite book. So we decided that it would be fun to discuss this book at the next meeting.

This is coming Saturday so I got the book from the library and started…

To stop again at page 90. Unfortunately, this book didn’t draw me in. I found what I read uninteresting and depressing.

The story centers around an English man who lives in Afghanistan, and whose Afghan wife was killed by the taliban. A Russian woman, Lara, is staying with him for a few days. She tracked him down as the father of a woman, Zameen, who may know what happened to Lara’s brother, who was a Russian soldier in Afghanistan decades ago. He was never heard of again. But Zameen is also dead and her boyfriend, who we find out knows quite a bit about Lara’s brother, pretend he doesn’t know.

Another foreigner, an American who has set up a school nearby, is the target of a suicide bombing near the school.

Unfortunately, I have no particular interest in Afghanistan and the war there. I only came across unpleasant people and situations in this book and there was nothing that piqued my interest. So after 90 pages, there were no people I wanted to know more about or situations where I wondered how they would be resolved.

I didn’t get attached to any of the characters either. It would may be have been more interesting if an Afghan person had played a role in the book but the only one that did (in the first 90 pages at least) disappeared from the book quite quickly.

I’m sure that people who have an interest in Afghanistan may enjoy this book, but it wasn’t for me.

Rating: 2/5 stars (not finished)

I got this book: from the library

I read this in: Dutch (De vergeefse wake), the original language is English

Number of pages: 368 (I read to page 90)

First published: 2008

Genre: literary fiction

Extras: Jackie from Farm Lane Books, whose reading taste I share, didn’t get very far in another book by Nadeem Aslam, Maps for Lost Lovers. Her post about it is here.

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6 Responses to Book Review: The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam (DNF)

  1. This book actually sounds a lot more instersting than Maps for Lost Lovers. I am interested in Afghanistan and so might have picked up this book if it had been written by another author. I just think Aslam’s writing style and me aren’t going to get on. 😦

    • Leeswammes says:

      There are quite a few books about Afghanistan these days, Jackie (unless I’m now grouping all books that play in the wider region together), so there must be others that you will enjoy more. I have no particular interest for this region, but I’m happy enough to read a book that takes place here, every now and then.

  2. Unfortunate you couldn’t finish it. I hate when that happens, but sometimes it’s just not interesting or satisfying to continue. I’m not particular fond of books with war as the subject matter, I will read it only if it comes highly recommended. I find them to be depressing at times. Nice honest review.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Lena, there are so many great books out there, if I don’t enjoy a book, I really don’t like to continue. Unless I expect it to get better for some reason. Or if I want to confirm that the butler did it.

  3. Love adding ‘extras’!

    Sorry this book didn’t work for you. I had a copy from the library (audio) but didn’t end up listening. With so many books to choose from, I will most likely pass.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mari, you might enjoy it, because you are more than me interested in people in war zones, etc., I think. Only, there wasn’t much “people” interest in the first part of the book – or they were all foreigners. I would probably have liked it more if there had been more about the native people, normal, everyday people.

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