Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review- The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed

The Collaborator on Goodreads


It is Kashmir in the early 1990s and war has finally reached the isolated village of Nowgam close to the Pakistan border. Indian soldiers appear as if from nowhere to hunt for militants on the run. Four teenage boys, who used to spend their afternoons playing cricket, or singing Bollywood ballads down by the river, have disappeared one by one, to cross into Pakistan and join the movement against the Indian army. Only one of their friends, the son of the headman, is left behind. The families in the village begin to think it's time to flee, to search for a place of greater safety. But the headman will not allow his family to leave. And, whilst the headman watches his dreams give way beneath the growing violence, his son, under the brutal, drunken gaze of the Indian army captain, is seemingly forced to collaborate and go into the valley to count the corpses, fearing, each day, that he will discover one of his friends lying amongst the dead. "The Colloborator" is a stunningly humane work of storytelling with a poignant and unpredictable hero at its heart. In one of the most shocking and brilliantly compelling novels of recent times Mirza Waheed lights our way into the heart of a war that is all too real.

Release date: 2011
Published by: Penguin Books Ltd.
Page numbers: 336


Like most books I have been reading since the past few months, The Collaborator had been sitting on my shelf for years. When I picked it from my TBR jar, I was more than happy to finally get to it. I don't remember reading reviews of the book as the sole reason I bought it was because it is set in Kashmir and as a topic that interests me, I feel disappointed to say that I haven't read many such books.

When I finally started reading The Collaborator, I was slightly let down by its slow pace. While author Mirza Waheed's writing is beautiful and he portrays melancholy in a way that's admirable and inspiring, I felt the story itself lacked not only pace, but interest as well, somewhere. It seemed to me like it was not moving.

Don't get me wrong, I love all the knowledge I gained from this book, because- and again, this is something I am ashamed of- I never really followed what happened in Kashmir. My sole explanation for this is the fact that I was too young, which isn't always a good excuse. Anyway, so while I did learn a lot; some things which I will never forget, some pictures that'll never erase from my mind, I felt like things were moving too slowly because I never though I'd take almost a month to finish this book.

The Collaborator is told from the point of view of young seventeen year old boy whose name we never get to know, which for me, is true art. Employed by Captian Kadian to look after the dead bodies literally tossed across the border, left behind by all his friends who go away to become militants, this young boy is a hero. I found him to be so relatable, because when I put myself in his place, I would've probably done what he did.

Overall, The Collaborator is a poignant read that gives a brilliant insight into life in Kashmir, and author Mirza Waheed's melancholic writing is beautifully depressing.

Buy the book: AMAZON

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