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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.
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.
Two lovers are destined to meet in the city of Srinagar. Roohi, beautiful and spirited, is haunted by dreams of a mysterious man she believes is her true love. Faiz, a dazzling young papier-m ch artist, is on the cusp of painting his masterpiece. When fate conspires to bring them together one windswept evening, both fall irrevocably in love. But in a time simmering with political strife and rebellion, the city they call home erupts in violence, threatening everything that the two lovers hold dear.
*Shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016* 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).
'With flashes of brilliance, tenderness and fury, Mirza Waheed's The Collaborator does what fiction should. It makes you listen' Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things By the waters running through the valleys of Kashmir, teenage boys come to play cricket, talk about girls, and just be. But a few years later, when they are young men and violence grips the region, they are gone. Only the son of the local headman has stayed. He knows his friends have slipped over the border to Pakistan, and turned militant to bear arms against the Indian army. He would like to join them - but he cannot. Instead, put in an impossible position by an Indian army Captain, he must cross into the shadowland between the opposing sides, a ghost walking among the dead. His fate, like that of his lost brothers, unknown . . . '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 'Compelling . . . An important and poetic testimony to an all-too-easily forgotten war' Daily Mail 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. Waheed has written for the BBC, the Guardian, Granta, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times. He lives in London.