Jamil Ahmad’s novel The Wandering Falcon is a layered depiction of the ambiguity of life in the harsh but beautiful region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book builds on the tradition of storytelling to weave stories of multiple characters and families together, with characters from previous sections looping back into later stories. The common link is a boy who becomes known as The Wandering Falcon, moving between groups and families and always looking out for his own interests.
In addition to using the characters to mirror the terrain, the individual and family stories also parallel the political tensions of the region, with shifting loyalties and changing enemies as the nomads of the area are a pawn between outside powers.
Ultimately I felt like the story lacked much in the way of redemption or conclusion, but that might be on purpose again as a reflection of the realities of life in that region.
If you’re interested in learning about other cultures, this book would be a good one to add to your list. It’s a short book, but a layered and nuanced one.
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