The wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad
Man Asian longlist 2011
Jamil Ahmad has spent his life as a civil servant and working closely in the tribal regions of pakistan near the Afghan border ,working closely for nearly fifty years with them .This book he had written over years and it was sent by a member of his family for a short story prize and end up being publish as it was in a novel form
Now wander falcon is set in that area of tribes that is now part of Afghanistan , Pakistan , Iran,part of which Robert Byron visit in the thirties in his book the road to Oxiana .THE book is told from a child that is found abandoned as his parents had broken tribal rules and had run off but he ends up alone in the desert , as he grows up ,in this sometimes harsh part of the world .But this isn’t a book that is harsh on these people the one thing that shines through is the writers love for the region and the people living their .Now as a western a lot of what happens in the book can seem harsh when we see it on the news but when read here in context by some one that knows the people so well it comes across as part of there society and tribal tradition .So we follow Tor Baz the abandon boy as he grows to be known as the black falcon as he is adopted by one leader but then as he isn’t of that tribe wanders like a falcon hovering around the tribes ,this happens through nine chapters that in their own way are little stories that make up the novel as a whole with just Tor Baz appearing all the way through the book and deal with various parts of his life . The book is set from the 1950s before russia got heavily involved in Afghanistan thou they are mention also how the tribes got involved in the second world war .This is also the time before the Taliban were not about .Even though it is in that time as the story of tribes and the warriors in them and the women unfold you feel this could be any time in the last five hundred years as the rich tribal traditions are so interwoven into the people Jamil describes it is imbedded in there DNA this way of life .
His hair gave credence to his tale .Even his eyebrows and eyelashes looked like freshly fallen snow clinging bravely to a cliff face .But then his energy and vitality seemed to belie his claim as he led his nomadic tribe ,year after year ,on their second migration from the afghan highlands .
A tribal leader sadar Karim Khan Kharot or the general described .
Jamil as shown in this passage has a poetic turn of phrase but the book is a simple narrative but done to perfection there is no need for clever writing as what he is writing is the world he has known for most of his life ,you feel he’s meet Tor Baz young men that drift these worlds due to fate and his parents bad luck at break rules and also tribal leaders ,but also the women come through not a the veiled weak figures that we sometimes see when this region is describe but a strong-willed females who are trying to make the way in a harsh male world in a harsh unforgiving part of the world .It’s fair to say I loved this book it was refreshing to read something that felt like a real portrayal of the tribes men not just our western view of them .
This was my review for the Shadow man asian judges Lisa has also review it very differently to my review