Title: The Wandering Falcon
Author: Jamil Ahmad
Release Date: October 13, 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction, Cultural Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Set in the post-WWII era in the mess of land on the Pakistani, Afghani, and Iranian border, The Wandering Falcon follows the life of Tor Baz, a nomad. As Tor Baz visits the different tribes in the region, unwilling to settle with any of them and instead preferring a solitary life, the reader gets a sense of the difficulties of life in this harsh but beautiful environment.
The Wandering Falcon is a novel that seems like it takes place centuries ago, in the wild lands on the borders of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The culture is ancient, and the nomadic way of life a time honored tradition among the tribes. They live life as they have for hundreds of years; time seems to stand still in the desolate region. But as modernity encroaches upon these nomadic tribes, the realities are jarring. As the region becomes more important on the world stage and modern notions such as international borders set in, it impacts the life of Tor Baz and other nomads in ways no one could have predicted.
Jamil Ahmad’s descriptions of this desolate land are incredibly written. His prose is spare and neat, but it holds so much power. His details are vivid and he writes this land with such love and care, it’s clear that the region means something to him personally. The terrain and weather is so unforgiving, yet there is a strange beauty to the entire place.
Through Tor Baz, The Wandering Falcon examines the nomadic way of life, as well as the tribal culture of the region. Readers get a glimpse into this completely foreign world, encountering the difficult realities of tribal justice (honor killings, kidnappings, etc.), but also getting the chance to explore the unique culture behind this lifestyle. Tor Baz himself was an orphan, raised by many different people, so he is a wanderer even among the nomads. Through his quest for closeness to God, the reader really gets a sense of life in this desolate place.
The Wandering Falcon is a beautiful meditation on the life of a nomad in an increasingly modernizing world. Ahmad uses his wonderful prose to illuminate Tor Baz’s life, shedding light on a forgotten people. This is eighty-year-old Jamil Ahmad’s debut novel, and I certainly hope he will continue with this craft, as this is a wonderfully poignant novel about the difficulties of change.