The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed
Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2011.
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.
'With flashes of brilliance, tenderness and fury, The Collaborator does what fiction should. It makes you listen. The tragedy unfolding in Kashmir is not easy to write about without falling into platitudes and empty slogans. Mirza Waheed pulls it off' -- Arundhati Roy
'I loved it. The voice is lyrical, to match the beauty of Kashmir, and yet is tinged with melancholy and grief. I was shaking at times, was livid at times and was moved to tears ultimately' -- Nadeem Aslam, Author Of Maps For Lost Lovers
'Devastating ... haunting ... gripping in its narrative drama' -- Kamila Shamsie, Guardian
'Compelling ... An important and poetic testimony to an all-too-easily forgotten war' Daily Mail
'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
'Waheed builds an atmosphere of menace and despair ... his tale possesses a disturbing power that is both lingering and profound' Independent on Sunday
'A thrilling, powerful debut' Sunday Times
'A beautifully realized account of horror, grief and the psychological trauma of war' Observer
About the Author
Mirza Waheed was born and brought up in Srinagar, Kashmir. He moved to Delhi when he was eighteen to study English Literature at the University of Delhi and worked as a journalist in the city for four years. He came to London in 2001 to join the BBC's Urdu Service, where he now works as an editor. Waheed attended the Arvon Foundation in 2007. The Collaborator is his first novel.
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