Book Review | The Collaborator

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Author- Mirza Waheed

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 Collaborator” 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.

About the author:Mirza was born and brought up in Kashmir. His debut novel, The Collaborator, was an international bestseller, was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award and the Shakti Bhat Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. It was selected by Waterstones as part of its big literary debut promotion, ‘Waterstones 11’. It was also a book of the year for The Telegraph, New Statesman, Financial Times, Business Standard and Telegraph India, among others. His latest novel, The Book of Gold Leaves, was published in 2014 to critical acclaim.

The Book of Gold Leaves was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016, longlisted for the Folio Prize, and was a finalist for the 2015 Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year (Fiction).

Mirza has written for the BBC, the Guardian, Granta, Guernica, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times.

Waheed’s new novel Tell Her Everything is out now.

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