The desert hills through which the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran cross are home to many nomadic tribes, each just wanting to roam the hills with their camels and sheep, maintaining the lifestyle of their ancestors. A boy is orphaned when his parents are murdered in front of him by the woman's tribe. Left to die, the boy is found by another nomadic tribe and adopted by them, but later finds himself abandoned yet again when the men he travels with are tricked into going to a government fort and arrested. We follow the journey of the boy through his interaction with the different tribes and how they are gradually forced to change their cultural practices and means of supporting themselves over time as borders are more strictly patrolled and traveling documents required. The stories are as fascinating as they are harshly beautiful.
The Wandering Falcon
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About This Item
In this extraordinary tale, Tor Baz, the young boy descended from both chiefs and outlaws who becomes the Wandering Falcon, moves between the tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan and their uncertain worlds full of brutality, humanity, deep love, honor, poverty, and grace. The wild area he travels -- the Federally Administered Tribal Area -- has become a political quagmire known for terrorism and inaccessibility. Yet in these pages, eighty-year-old debut author Jamil Ahmad lyrically and insightfully reveals the people who populate those lands, their tribes and traditions, and their older, timeless ways in the face of sometimes ruthless modernity. This story is an essential glimpse into a hidden world, one that has enormous geopolitical significance today and still remains largely a mystery to us.
Jamil Ahmad is a storyteller in the classic sense -- there is an authenticity and wisdom to his writing that harkens back to another time. The Wandering Falcon reminds us why we read and how vital fiction is in opening new worlds to our imagination and understanding.
Penguin Publishing Group
|Number of Pages|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
7.00 x 5.00 x 0.66 Inches
The desert hills throu...
In his first work of f...
In his first work of fiction, "The Wandering Falcon", Jamil Ahmad depicts a world caught between timeless paths of migration and geo-political modernity. Ahmad knits together a series of short stories that cover the life arc of one young man, Tor Baz - the wandering falcon of the title, as he journeys from infancy to manhood. Inspired by his time as a civil service worker in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Ahmad writes of a world governed by clan and custom. During his time as a powerful emissary of the Pakistani government under the tribal region's frontier governing system, Jamil Ahmad simultaneously served as politician, police chief, judge, jury and executioner. Bits of this personal history are woven within the stories, including hints of Jamil's wife's German heritage. Environmentalist and activist Helga Ahmad was instrumental in encouraging her husband Jamil to move from halting first attempts at poetry to richly crafted stories of people, place and borders. The bleak landscapes in the book evoke a world of nomadic treks where human contact is brief and often violent, and where far western desert winds blow clouds of sand so thick that breath is priceless. The environment is unforgiving as is the justice doled out by tribe and government. Jamil Ahmad finished "The Wandering Falcon" in 1973-74, but the stories did not find a publisher until this year. Penguin Books' decision to at last publish Jamil's stories is timely. Ahmad believes that his stories evoke a vanishing world of tribes that the modern world must resonate and harmonize with: "Because frankly speaking, I still think that each one of us has a tribal gene inside, embedded inside. I really think that way." Jamil Ahmad hopes that deeper understanding of the tribes that once roamed freely between the far borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran could help end the wars that stain their mountains and valleys with blood. Reading "The Wandering Falcon" can help begin a process of understanding between the timeless nomadic life and the fragmenting borders of our post-modern society. Our contemporary world has much to learn from the rhythms of the nomadic trail. I highly recommend Jamil Ahmad's magnificent book "The Wandering Falcon".
I have taken a number ...
I have taken a number of classes on Afghanistan and Pakistan...it's history, the people, the culture, the conflict. It continues to come down to a bottom line that these countries are tribal in nature and that unless you understand the tribal culture, you can never understand the country. Because we look at life "through our eyes" it is impossible for someone who is not "inside" the culture to see it in its entirety and to convey it authentically. I was very happy to receive the ARC of the "The Wandering Falcon" written by Jamil Ahmad, someone who was very "inside" the tribal culture. Ahmad is a Pakistani civil servant who worked for decades in the Northwest Tribal region. His first posting was in Baluchistan. In 1970, at the urging of his wife, he began to write stories based on his experiences. The result is the fictional account of "The Wandering Falcon," which is a collection of stories that take place in the mountainous region along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The stories' characters are members of the nomadic tribes that are in constant flow between the high mountainous areas and the plains, as they take their sheep and goats to grazing areas. They are loosely tied together by the character of Tor Baz, a young boy who was orphaned when his parents, an adulterous couple, were killed according to tribal law when he was 5 years old. He was adopted by Baluch rebels who were fighting the Pakistani government and over time becomes the wandering falcon. The book is small and is an easy read...and I could not put it down. It is stark and it is brutal as it describes the struggles and life of the people, the interactions between characters and the resolving of life's issues and conflicts according to tribal law. And yet, embedded in the brutality is a beauty and an empathy for the people that creates a sense of humanity in the telling. Tribal law is something that I cannot understand. I was struck with how black and white it is. There are no gray areas. There is a clear dividing line between right and wrong and there is no hesitation in acting according to the dictates of it. Ahmed completed the book in 1973 but no one was willing to publish it until 2008 when two young Pakistani women, a Lahore-based bookseller, Aysha Raja, and a Karachi-based columnist and editor, Faiza Sultan Khan, called on Pakistani authors to submit stories for a competition. Ahmad's younger brother insisted that he must show them his work. After reworking the 35-year-old manuscript, Ahmad sent it to Khan, who championed it, and showed it to an editor at Penguin. (source: Basharat Peer, The Guardian). I am glad that I read the book and while I will never understand how the characters can live as they do and choose as they do, I have a greater appreciation for their life and their struggle. It has also clarified my thoughts and opinions about the Western involvement in this area. I highly recommend the book to anyone who appreciates the beautiful use of words to describe an unknown entity, which Jamil Ahmad did...beautifully!
The remote corner of t...
The remote corner of the world where Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan meet has played a role in world affairs since the time of the British Empire, and yet it remains a mysterious place, a land of tribal loyalties and customs that are seemingly contradictory, aggressive, and disloyal. Current news reports struggle to give motivations to the tribal leaders whose actions sometimes help and sometimes hinder the Taliban and terrorists. In The Wandering Falcon, Jamil Ahmad gives us a window into this inaccessible land and its complicated history, tribal relationships, and belief systems. Ahmad knows this region well, having worked and lived in the area for decades. He attempts to distill his impressions in a series of vignettes, each depicting a particular tribe and/or social issue. Connecting the stories is a character known as Tor Baz, who is orphaned in the first chapter and moves amongst the tribes throughout the book. He is not, as I first thought, the protagonist of the novel. Rather he, as the perpetual outsider, is the means through which we are allowed access to the tribes. The role of the chief, or Sardar, is explored in several stories: how they are chosen, the relationship they have with their tribesmen, and the various ways in which the Pakistani government has tried, over the years, to work with or abolish them. At times there is a disconnect between the government and the tribes, at other times there is an almost ritualized arrangement of actions and counteractions that are expected and performed as a means of maintaining the status quo. For some tribes, simply the existence of a nation state is enough to end their nomadic way of life forever. But most heart-wrenching of all is the treatment of women. From the first story to the last, the majority of women suffer. Simple survival is hard, requiring enormous effort in order to sustain a family, often while their husbands are away for years at a time. And harder still is the subjugation of women to the word of their fathers and husbands. Daughters can be sold for a pound of opium, unattached women are prey for slavers, and adultery, under any circumstances, is unforgivable. Yet there is also love and sacrifice, making even the treatment of women in the tribes a contradictory story. A first-time novelist at the age of eighty, Jamil Ahmad has been trying to get this book published for years. Finally, its time has come, and how fortunate for us. His writing is clean and direct, and his characters seem to me to be the archetypes of people he may have actually known. He has the experience to write authentic fiction, and the distance needed to avoid prejudice. Without preaching or falling back on tired Western assumptions, Ahmad lets us see the complexity of the geopolitical area and its tribal relationships. I sincerely hope that Mr. Ahmad continues to write and be published, and that his present book achieves the readership it deserves.
The Wandering Falcon b...
The Wandering Falcon by Pakistani author Jamil Ahmad is a collection of inter-linked stories that are set in the remote tribal lands along the Pakistan-Afghan border. The stories all concern the life of these tribal people and are linked by one character who weaves in and out of most of the stories. We first meet Tor Baz, the black falcon, when as a young child his parents are killed by his mother's relatives. She had run away from an impotent husband with one of her father's servants. They had avoided being caught for many years, but were eventually discovered. From there the child is shuffled around, always wandering and never the main character of the story but instead appearing on the fringes. He is a guide, an informer, a smuggler and a slave trader. This is an unforgiving corner of the world and conditions are harsh. Through these stories the traditions and culture of these tribal people are revealed. The author writes with great respect and empathy toward these people. Their lives are filled with harshness and cruelty as they wander with their herds. Eventually the political borders are called into play and their wandering lifestyle is curtailed. In one story, "The Death of Camels|", the refusal of Pakistan to allow them to take their herds to fresh pasture across the border, means not only the death of their herds but brings their own lives into jeopardy as well. Jamil Ahmad is a gifted storyteller and The Wandering Falcon is a moving account of a disappearing lifestyle.
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