The Golden Legend

“The Golden Legend” by Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan)

Review

Distinctly historical fiction or with a clear taste of history both past and present, the four shortlisted books for this year’s Summer Reading Group were all of excellent calibre making it tough to settle on just one favourite. Our readers also noticed a recurrent theme in all four of violence and hardship and regretted that the summer books weren’t a bit more light relief. As Nicola explained, her Summer Reading Group is a continuation of her regular Book Club. Her aim is to pick books that challenge the reader to step outside their comfort zone and broaden their perspective. She hopes her selection of books will inspire readers to open their minds to another way of seeing the world and their place in it. At the end of the discussion, when it came time for voting, “The Golden Legend” was chosen by a slight margin as Best Summer Read 2017.

“The Golden Legend” by Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan) is set in contemporary Pakistan in a fictional city named Zamana (Lahore in all but name) and is about a community consumed by religious intolerance. Readers loved this book finding it fascinating and powerful. They described the writing as poetic and beautiful, and liked the ebb and flow of the story. They loved the descriptions of the different places, especially the buildings designed by the two architects. The contrast between modernity and the old ways felt all too familiar. Reading about the many killings in the name of religion, they said, got depressing after a while. Luckily, they warmed to all the protagonists, who they agreed were the main elements of optimism in such a violent tale. 

Synopsis

When shots ring out on the Grand Trunk Road, Nargis’s life begins to crumble around her. Her husband, Massud – a fellow architect – is caught in the crossfire and dies before she can confess to him her greatest secret. Under threat from a powerful military intelligence officer, who demands that she pardon her husband’s American killer, Nargis fears that the truth about her past will soon be exposed… Read more

Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2017

“The Chosen Maiden” by Eva Stachniak (Poland)
“The Golden Legend” by Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan)
“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (U.S.)
“The Woman Next Door” by Yewande Omotoso (South Africa)

* Best Summer Read
In italics, SRG’s Coup de Cœur

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