the Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad (2011)

“‘Sahib’, he spoke after a while. ‘You have asked me a question I have not been asked for a long time now.’ His eyes started crinkling and all of a sudden he was laughing. Heavy, gusty laughter filled the room. Then he spoke. ‘It is true, I am neither a Mashud nor a Wazir. But I can tell you as little about who I am as I can about who I shall be. Think of Tor Baz as your hunting falcon. That should be enough.’

Tor Baz was left in the desert alone on the after his parents were killed by the tribe his mother ran away from. During the next years he will be raised by many, always moving around in the area divided between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. He moves along the tribes but no one gets close to him.

Each chapter is a story in itself, sometimes with the falcon, Tor Baz, or not. There are no dates, but some stories are set before the countries’ independence and some after. I usually get confused when a book moves back and forth in time, but because the chapters are so different from each other, all with a very good and informed beginning, it was easy to keep up.

Ahmad offers a fascinating insight to a very complex area. All the different tribes have their own code of honour and problems, and life is hard no matter what side you are on.

I’m also very impressed that this is the first book written by a man in his very late seventies.