99 Nights in Logar review: ​Jamil Jan Kochai’s brilliant picaresque tale

99 Nights In Logar
​Jamil Jan Kochai
​Bloomsbury, $29.99

Jamil Jan Kochai's 99 Nights In Logar begins in 2005 with a 12-year-old boy, Marwand, returning to his birthplace in Afghanistan after six years in the US. He's reunited with his extended family, including Barbash, the huge village dog he used to tease that promptly bites off part of Marwand's finger and runs away. The boy teams up with his cousins Zia, Gul and Dawood to search for the dog, initiating a wild picaresque that veers from rambunctious hilarity to family mystery, from labile magical realism to the desolations of endless violence. It's a marvellous feat of storytelling, and the tales rise from the battlefield of Marwand's quest to rediscover home with such eloquence, such ingenuity, such narrative command, and such imagination for the tragicomic ambit of life in Afghanistan, it reads a bit like Scheherazade reborn for the 21st century.

99 Nights in Logar. By Jamil Jan Kochai.

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