Last month, FaberBooks published an interview with Nadeem Aslam, the Pakistani-British novelist whose past work includes “Season of the Rainbirds” (1993), “Maps for Lost Lovers” (2004), and “The Wasted Vigil” (2008). The interview focuses on the author’s forthcoming novel, “The Blind Man’s Garden,” set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11.
In the 40-minute interview (which you should definitely listen to along with Aslam’s readings from The Blind Man’s Garden) was this little gem from the author. The full question from the interview begins at 12:27. Also, below is a video from the author discussing the same.
The author begins by talking about 9/11. He starts by noting, “[the] clash between an incomplete understanding of the East and an incomplete understanding of the West.”
He goes on to say the following:
“If you go to Google and you type in “Pakistan is,” the four autofill choices you are given: “evil,” “stupid,” “dangerous,” “a terrorist country.” Type in “America is” and the choices you are given are “not the world,” “evil, “not a country, but a business.”
I’m not sure when exactly when this interview was done. (In the past, I’ve come across comparisons between India and Pakistan. And of course there was this little bit of nonsense.)
Either way, I thought I’d go to Google myself and see what the autocomplete looks like currently. As you may know, Google autocomplete works by reflecting “the search activity of all web users and the content of web pages indexed by Google.”
Here’s what I found on February 14: