The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam

The Golden Legend

A brave, timely, searingly beautiful novel from the acclaimed author of The Blind Man's Garden set in contemporary Pakistan, the story of a Muslim widow and her Christian neighbors whose community is consumed by violent religious intolerance.When shots ring out on the Grand Trunk Road, Nargis's life begins to crumble around her. Her husband, Massud--a fellow architect--is...

Title:The Golden Legend
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0451493788
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:368 pages

The Golden Legend Reviews

  • William Koon
    Jan 18, 2017

    I discovered Nadeem Aslam many years ago. He is totally delightful as a writer. He never disappoints with his intelligent and thoughtful themes. His Map for Lost Lovers remains one of my favorite novels of this century.

    In The Golden Legend, he returns to his native contemporary Pakistan and writes a horror story. Basically his characters are Christians in a Muslim society. The Christians are very persecuted. But then even moderate Muslims are persecuted. The nation is a living picture of dystop

    I discovered Nadeem Aslam many years ago. He is totally delightful as a writer. He never disappoints with his intelligent and thoughtful themes. His Map for Lost Lovers remains one of my favorite novels of this century.

    In The Golden Legend, he returns to his native contemporary Pakistan and writes a horror story. Basically his characters are Christians in a Muslim society. The Christians are very persecuted. But then even moderate Muslims are persecuted. The nation is a living picture of dystopia.

    But people live in a dystopia and Alsam does a wonderful portrayal of the women, who are essentially outsiders in their own culture. There is Nardis, a talented architect. Aysha, a widow of a “martyr” who must forever remain a widow to honor her husband’s death. Helen who is the daughter of a Christian rickshaw driver, educated and could be something, if she were not Christian and a woman shines.

    After a set-up of Nardis’s husband being assassinated and the introduction of a love affair between Lily and Aysha, the wheels get to turning.

    The central part of the novel is the idyll of Nardis, Helen, and Imran, who is a renegade Kasmir rebel without a cause. They escape to an island paradise, but of course there is no escaping the corruption, the bombings, the humiliations, the assurance of theocratic rightness.

    In the midst of all of this ugliness and perversity, Aslam writes some beautiful nature passages, and we become aware of what natural beauty could exist if it were not for the politics and religious passions of men.

    The symbolism is oft-times heavy handed, as in the reconstruction of the book by the father of Masud, Nardis’ murdered husband. Carefully she tries to repair the work after it has been violated by an American intelligence figure. There are also famous buildings reconstructed and buildings made of paper. And books with poetic worm holes. No one said it was perfect.

    I am still unsure about the last part of the novel. I firmly believe that no one should write magical realism unless your name is Garcia Marquez.

    Still, the work is a near masterpiece, missing the mark enough to make the reader wish that the lines were drawn a bit wider, the field a bit longer.

  • Vivek Tejuja
    Jan 22, 2017

    With every book that he writes, Nadeem Aslam only gets better at his craft. Since his debut novel in 1993, “Season of the Rainbirds”, Aslam returns to Pakistan with his latest book “The Golden Legend”. His new book is also just the others – a statement made against wars, what was started by the West and how the country he depicts is hell-bent on completing it, and to top it the darkness of the world. What is different about “The Golden Legend” (which I personally love) is the combination of real

    With every book that he writes, Nadeem Aslam only gets better at his craft. Since his debut novel in 1993, “Season of the Rainbirds”, Aslam returns to Pakistan with his latest book “The Golden Legend”. His new book is also just the others – a statement made against wars, what was started by the West and how the country he depicts is hell-bent on completing it, and to top it the darkness of the world. What is different about “The Golden Legend” (which I personally love) is the combination of realism and fable across a terrain of terrorism, tragedy and cruelty.

    “The Golden Legend” opens with the death of a middle-aged architect Massud, leaving his wife and collaborator Nargis behind. Both of them were collectively working on building a library on the outskirts of the city – to which they were transporting books and that is how Massud got shot and died. At this time, with turmoil surrounding them and a roadside shooting as well, Nargis flees with her Christian neighbour Helen. This is when there are violent relations between Christians and Muslims.

    This is only one part of the story. There is also the story of Helen, who falls in love with Imran, an unknown Kashmiri. There is the story of Helen’s mother Lily. There is another tale of the US officer who wants Nargis to forgive her husband’s killer. Amidst all this, there is the story of life, love and reconstruction of faith.

    Aslam’s prose cuts through to you. At least it has always to me. His narrative is wise and affecting and perhaps more timely than ever. Catharsis for his characters comes in forms and ways one cannot even imagine. Through his solid writing, Aslam reflects Pakistan’s present and past through a story of love and human spirit, which only he could have offered.

  • Carol
    May 14, 2017

    [It may be some time before I have the bandwidth to write proper reviews. Penning this one would be my first priority, when time permits.]

    Until then:

    I would give it ten stars if I could.

    I will press it into the hands of both friends and strangers, in what, no doubt, will eventually cause deserved eye-rolls.

    It will stay in my heart and mind for a long, long time.

  • Eric Anderson
    Feb 13, 2017

    I’ve greatly admired Nadeem Aslam’s writing since I read his 2004 novel “Maps for Lost Lovers” which focused on an immigrant Pakistani community in the north of England. There is something so striking about his use of imagery which conveys the feelings of his characters and expresses the ideas which they are wrestling with. His novels are intricate, layered with diverse references and wrestle with pressing political dilemmas, but at the heart of his writing are compelling dramatic stories of ind

    I’ve greatly admired Nadeem Aslam’s writing since I read his 2004 novel “Maps for Lost Lovers” which focused on an immigrant Pakistani community in the north of England. There is something so striking about his use of imagery which conveys the feelings of his characters and expresses the ideas which they are wrestling with. His novels are intricate, layered with diverse references and wrestle with pressing political dilemmas, but at the heart of his writing are compelling dramatic stories of individuals simply trying to live and love each other in challenging circumstances. It feels like his new novel “The Golden Legend” is his most violent and heartrending yet. It’s set in Pakistan and concerns several individuals caught in the middle of a fraught religious struggle. An architect named Nargis hides a dangerous secret which she must reckon with when her Christian friends Helen and her father Lily find themselves embroiled in a serious conflict with the strict Muslims of the community. Together with a young ex-militant man named Imran from Kashmir, they escape to a forgotten place of refuge – inevitably they are unable to remain hidden from the larger world forever.

    Read my full

  • Saloni
    Feb 27, 2017

    We live in a difficult world and it is up to writers and artists to make it worth living in, even while engaging with the worst it has to offer. Aslam's latest is almost morbid in the way it connects to the unreal everyday of life in Pakistan and in neighbouring Kashmir. It is brutal. It is difficult to read. It is impossible to ignore.

    And yet, as he often does, the text makes you want to believe in the possibility of hope and redemption and love.

    This isn't a pretty book. It does have a pretty

    We live in a difficult world and it is up to writers and artists to make it worth living in, even while engaging with the worst it has to offer. Aslam's latest is almost morbid in the way it connects to the unreal everyday of life in Pakistan and in neighbouring Kashmir. It is brutal. It is difficult to read. It is impossible to ignore.

    And yet, as he often does, the text makes you want to believe in the possibility of hope and redemption and love.

    This isn't a pretty book. It does have a pretty book in it, though. Do read.

  • Penny (Literary Hoarders)
    Jun 07, 2017

    To say this is a timely read is an understatement. The capacity for violence and hate in humans and to use that hatred and violence in the name of religion, any religion, is terribly sad making. A sad and melancholic ending.

  • Jane
    May 23, 2017

    In shimmering and exquisite prose the author rails against the various forms of religious bigotry and hatred in a dystopian Pakistan: a wife, Nargis,and her Muslim husband, Masood, who are architects where Nargis lives a lie--a Christian taking on a Muslim identity; a young Christian girl, Helen, they consider their protégé; her widowed father, Lily, in love with a Muslim cleric's daughter and she him; the love between Helen and a young Kashmiri, Imran, a former guerrilla fighter. His ideals hav

    In shimmering and exquisite prose the author rails against the various forms of religious bigotry and hatred in a dystopian Pakistan: a wife, Nargis,and her Muslim husband, Masood, who are architects where Nargis lives a lie--a Christian taking on a Muslim identity; a young Christian girl, Helen, they consider their protégé; her widowed father, Lily, in love with a Muslim cleric's daughter and she him; the love between Helen and a young Kashmiri, Imran, a former guerrilla fighter. His ideals have been betrayed by the training camp but not lost completely. Absolutely unforgettable story and characters! Although not completely clear towards its finale, the story ends on a note of optimism. A book written by Masood's father, telling of how all cultures have borrowed from each other and from that we can assume that all men are at base, brothers, figures strongly in the novel.

    Highly recommended.

  • Ace
    Jun 13, 2017

    This story depicts in detail the violence in current day Pakistan. It is beautifully told but hard to read. It must be so hard to remain patriotic in some countries when madness seems to have taken hold of your political and religious leadership. Enough said.

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