Aslam was born in Gujranwala, Pakistan and moved with his family to the UK aged 14 when his father, a Communist, fled President Zia's regime. The family settled in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. He later studied biochemistry at the University of Manchester, but left in his third year to become a writer.
He lives in north London.
At 13, Aslam published his first short story in Urdu in a Pakistani newspaper.
He won widespread praise for his next novel Maps for Lost Lovers (2004) which is set in the midst of an immigrant Pakistani community in an English town in the north. The novel took him more than a decade to complete, and won the Kiriyama Prize.
Aslam's third novel, The Wasted Vigil, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in September, 2008. It is set in Afghanistan. He traveled to Afghanistan during the writing of the book; but had never visited the country before writing the first draft. On 11 February 2011, it was short-listed for the Warwick Prize For Writing 
Aslam's fourth novel is The Blind Man's Garden (2013). It is set in Western Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan and looks at the War on Terror through the eyes of local, Islamist characters. It contains also a tender love story loosely based on the traditional Punjabi romance of Heer Ranjha.
His writings have been compared to those by Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Kiran Desai. Aslam received an Encore in 2005. He writes his drafts in longhand and prefers extreme isolation when working. 
- Season of the Rainbirds (1993)
- Maps for Lost Lovers (2004)
- The Wasted Vigil (2008)
- Leila in the Wilderness (short story) published in Granta 112 (2010)
- The Blind Man's Garden (2013)
Prizes and awards
- For Season of the Rainbirds
- For Maps for Lost Lovers
- For The Blind Man's Garden
- For anything else
- British council contemporary writers
- Random House
- BBC World Service, The Word, 14 October 2008
- Rees, Jasper (2004-06-14). "Nadeem Aslam". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
- Ashlin Mathew (November 22, 2013). "Three Indians in race for DSC prize for South Asian Literature 2014". India Today. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- "Prize Citation for Nadeem Aslam". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 08, 2014.
- Interview about Maps for Lost Lovers
- Interview about The Wasted Vigil
- Interview with Three Monkeys Online magazine
- Video conference in Barcelona - CCCB