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Earth and Ashes

Earth and Ashes Cover

Earth and Ashes

By Atiq Rahimi; Erdag M. Goknar (Translator)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151006984, 96pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2002


When the Soviet army arrives in Afghanistan, the elderly Dastaguir witnesses the destruction of his village and the death of his clan. His young grandson Yassin, deaf from the sounds of the bombing, is one of the few survivors. The two set out through an unforgiving landscape, searching for the coal mine where Murad, the old man's son and the boy's father, works. They reach their destination only to learn that they must wait and rely for help on all that remains to them: a box of chewing tobacco, some unripe apples, and the kindness of strangers.
Haunting in its spareness, Earth and Ashes is a tale of devastating loss, but also of human perseverance in the face of madness and war.

About the Author
Born in Kabul in 1962, Atiq Rahimi was seventeen years old when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. He left the country during the war, eventually obtaining political asylum in France. Rahimi now lives in Paris, where he makes documentary films. "Earth and Ashes" is his first book.

Praise For Earth and Ashes


"With this novel Rahimi picks up a shard of broken glass and sees the whole truth of his devastated country."--Der Spiegel (Germany)

"Evokes with intimacy and lyricism the tragedy of a country."--Libération (France)

"A literary creation of a kind not seen for years."--L'Express (France)

"The history of Yassin and his grandfather does for our time what Antigone did for the Greeks. . . . Extraordinary."--La Marseillaise (France)

"A hallucinatory, tragic cry of despair."--Le Monde (France)

Wednesday, Dec 9, 2009

Afghanistan is not an easy country to fully grasp. Author Nadeem Aslam recommends three books that help make the United States' involvement there — both before and after Sept. 11 — a little easier to understand. More at

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