Jamil Ahmad: The Wandering Falcon

The book has been described as “one of the finest collections of short stories to come out of South Asia in decades”.

From The Express Tribune:

ScreenHunter_05 Oct. 20 16.03A retired civil servant nearing 80 may not sound like the most obvious debut author to take the international publishing world by storm, but Jamil Ahmad has done precisely that.

Over a cup of tea and a glass of lime juice, he talked about a career as an administrator along Pakistan’s desolate borders with Afghanistan and Iran, and how he turned those memories into a book that has earned rave reviews.

“The Wandering Falcon”, published this month, captures the raw romance of Pakistan’s wildest terrain — associated today in the West with Taliban lairs and Al-Qaeda terror plots.

Seduced by tales of “cowboys and Indians” as a schoolboy, Ahmad quickly developed a lifelong passion for the tribal way of life in Balochistan and the tribal areas along the Afghan border in the northwest.

He joined the civil service in 1954 and later became commissioner of Swat and Waziristan. He served at the embassy in Kabul from 1978 to 1980, a crucial time for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, coinciding with the Soviet invasion of the former.

When he showed his German wife Helga some poetry, she dismissed it as “rubbish” and told him to write about something he knew — namely, the tribal way of life. The result was a manuscript finished in 1974 and tucked away in a drawer.

More here.