The Book of Gold Leaves
Mirza Waheed's extraordinary new novel The Book of Gold Leaves is a heartbreaking love story set in war-torn Kashmir. In an ancient house in the city of Srinagar, Faiz paints exquisite Papier Mache pencil boxes for tourists. Evening is beginning to slip into night when he sets off for the shrine. There he finds the woman with the long black hair. Roohi is prostrate before her God. She begs for the boy of her dreams to come and take her away. Roohi wants a love story. An age-old tale of love, war, temptation, duty and choice, The Book of Gold Leaves is a heartbreaking tale of a what might have been, what could have been, if only. "I loved it. The voice is lyrical, to match the beauty of Kashmir, and yet it is tinged with melancholy and grief, as is the story it tells". (Nadeem Aslam (on The Collaborator)). "Waheed's prose burns with the fever of anger and despair; the scenes in the valley are exceptional, conveying, a hallucinatory living nightmare that has become an everyday reality for Kashmiris". (Metro (on The Collaborator)). Mirza Waheed was born and brought up in Kashmir. His debut novel The Collaborator was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Shakti Bhat Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. It was also book of the year for The Telegraph, New Statesman, Financial Times, Business Standard and Telegraph India, among others. Waheed has written for the BBC, The Guardian, Granta, Al Jazeera English and the New York Times. He lives in London.
A haunting illustration of how, at the end of last century, normal life became impossible for many of those who call Kashmir home ... Waheed's talent lies in the vivid, convincing detail he brings to descriptions of everyday lives. The careful meshing of domestic intimacy with political events is done deftly, with integrity. Like his great-grandfather's gold painting, Waheed's work will undoubtedly endure Financial Times Waheed writes about war with a devastating and unflinching calm, with the melancholy wisdom of someone attuned to but never hardened by its horrors ... He has a formidable insight into his large cast of characters, from the elegant grief-stricken principal of the girls' school taken over by Indian officers to the spoilt boy-turned-insurgent who betrays his own father Guardian A harrowing tale of love in a time of conflict and change ... The language in this book is lyrical, indeed at times it seems to be poetry masquerading as prose. The Book of Gold Leaves is the sort of book one can read and re-read - and then read again News on Sunday A dazzling and heart-breaking story set in war-torn Kashmir - essential reading Stylist Waheed writes about Kashmir with compassion, not anger ... [and] one finds a strange and terrible beauty. There are no heroes or villains in this exquisite book, just a palpable grief for what might have been India Today, 'Books of the Year' A beautifully told and finely choreographed story of love, art and conflict in Kashmir -- Kamila Shamsie Guardian, Books of the Year Waheed's new novel returns to 1990s Kashmir. If The Collaborator was journalistic in its zeal to explain Kashmir ... [here] what keeps you reading is the story. He relies on family dynamics to drive the action ... it's ultimately how the novel accounts for the moral toll of war Sunday Telegraph Poetic and political with a warm sensuousness, The Book of Gold Leaves is the year's best book. As beautifully written as the paintings on papier mache that one of its central characters executes, this fine examination of the Kashmiri condition through a Sunni-Shia love story leaves the reader both wretched and transformed, and brings us to a greater understanding of the fragility of love in a harsh climate Hindustan Times, 'Books of the Year' Like the gold leaves of the book's title, Waheed's prose is like pixie dust, sprinkled all over a city of heartbreak and despair. It is a city that has found in Waheed, the great-grandson of a much-admired papier-mache artist, its truest troubadour. Read him and weep. -- Kaveree Bamzai India Today A romance set against the backdrop of unrest in the Kashmiri valley in the 1990s, Waheed's second novel explores the reasons behind young men taking to bloodshed Scroll India, 'Books of the Year'