By Caroline Brothers

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Paperback, 9781608196784, 245pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2012


Two boys are crossing Europe. Only fourteen and eight years old, they have nothing but the clothes on their backs and a dwindling inheritance stitched into the lining of a belt. Their goal is a future they can no longer wait for in Afghanistan, one they hope to find in faraway England.

As they travel, the older, Aryan, teaches his brother Kabir the capitals of the countries they'll pass through-a way of mapping the course in case anything should happen to separate them. Together they recite a list of cities they can't yet imagine, so as not to forget the names: Kabul-Tehran-Istanbul-Athens- Rome-Paris-London. Though their journey is filled with moments of boyish wonder and adventure, the two also confront hunger and exhaustion, cold and heat, violence and confusion, and are exploited for their labor and forced to rely on strangers who shouldn't be trusted.

Caroline Brothers first met these "lost boys" of Afghanistan as a journalist in France, in makeshift refugee camps. Her report on them made the front page of the New York Times, but she wanted to go deeper, to tell their story in human terms. Hinterland, her debut novel, raises questions about the global community's responsibilities toward these children, dispensing with journalistic remove to emerge as a work of incredible empathy, beautifully written.

Hinterland is a gripping journey of love and courage, the story of two resolute spirits not soon forgotten.

Praise For Hinterland

"Brothers adeptly synthesizes stories gathered as a reporter in France into a forceful account of two prototypical lost boys as they hazard 'the great lottery' of a journey across Europe... Brothers has the seasoned journalist's eye for idiosyncratic detail and a sense for the riveting turnabouts that keep readers as off balance as her characters." - New York Times Book Review

"Brothers shines a powerful light on the shadowy world of cross-border refugees in this compelling and empathetic account of two children seeking a chance at life a long way from home." - Library Journal

"Caroline Brothers novel about two Afghani brothers making their way to London offers a moving account of [asylum seekers]...15-year-old Aryan and his eight-year-old brother Kabir face a litany of horrors... Fortunately there is light as well as darkness. Random acts of kindness punctuate the narrative. An Iranian-American couple buy the boys new clothes. A Greek grandmother welcomes them to her table. The book's emotional heart is the relationship between the brothers -- Aryan forced to assume the role of a parent, Kabir exiled so long that he can't remember the face of his dead mother. Brothers' elegant prose holds sentimentality at bay, complementing some impressive reportage." - Financial Times