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Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi
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Earth and Ashes

by Atiq Rahimi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2091682,201 (3.96)32
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English (12)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This Afghani novella of only 81 pages is one of the most poignant, moving pieces I've ever read! Upon finishing it, I closed the book and took a long pause to get my breath back; this simple story of a grandfather, Dastaguir, and his little grandson, Yassin, broke my heart. Written in stark, spare prose with no wasted words, this tragic story encapsulates the whole broken war-torn land of Afghanistan through two peasants.

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a grandfather and grandson, the only survivors from their bombed-out village, make a journey to see the boy's father, who is a coal miner in another location. The little boy has been deafened by the loud noise of bombs. From time to time Dastaguir remembers his family and the day of the bombing. He daydreams about family or himself as a child or naps, having strange dreams as the truck carries him to the mine. We read his interior monologues: what will he say to his son about the attack and his family?

Dastaguir and Yassin are vivid characters, as well as others: a shopkeeper, a guard, a truck driver. The author painted a masterful picture using few uncomplicated words. I could see everything before me on every page. For some reason the author's device of using an omniscient narrator talking to Dastaguir [casting the story in second person] was very effective. References to the Persian epic Shahnama are worked into the plot. [Rostam and Sohrab are as well known in that part of the world as Agamemnon and Orestes are here.] I had never heard of this novella before; now I highly recommend it to everyone! ( )
  janerawoof | Aug 8, 2014 |
This is an extraordinary short story or novella. It is the story of a grandfather and grandson travelling together to find their son/father respectively. It sounds like a simple story, but it is based during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and blends great tragedy with honest thoughts and feelings of the characters whilst also making reference to the eleventh century, Persian, Book of Kings. It is absolutely transferrable to the present day and could easily be a story of a family in the very recent past!

This book was a recommendation for me based on other books I had read. It was a great recommendation and I will definitely read more from this author. ( )
  Elainedav | Oct 21, 2013 |
In the hyperbole and YA pomp-and-circumstance surrounding the release of Suzanne Collins' third volume in the Hunger Games trilogy, it would be easy to overlook the release of a slight volume of prose, translated from the French, of a story crafted from the mind of an Afghan expatriate and; while understandable, it would also be equally unforgivable. Atiq Rahimi's works are not so much as slight as they are distilled quintessences of stories, carefully crafted scenes of both physical and transcendent landscapes. Rahimi's stories strip out the superfluous in both language and meaning, providing the reader with true abstracts of the time-and-place and the characters. In Earth & Ashes, the story of an older man who must travel with his grandson to the mines where his son (the boy’s father) works, in order to deliver tragic news, the political language that one might expect to inform the whole of the story’s context, the Russians invading Afghanistan, is supplanted by the realty that Dastaguir (the older man) understands: the immediacy of having his village bombed, his having to witness the destruction and survive it and, to try to make sense of what is only tritely explainable. Dastaguir’s world is reduced to a landscape that has been rendered unto rubble, colored by the dust of the road and the soot of the mining camp, a world he must still literally and figuratively negotiate to reach his son, Murad. Along the way, through his dreams, his recollections, through the power of storytelling itself (the story of the guard, the story of the Book of Kings… ) Dastaguir tells us the story of himself, which is not the story of a doddering old man given to distraction as would seem, but the narrative of a man facing the daunting prospect of having to re-write his future history, his future identity, by aggregating his grief:

“You don’t hear the rest of the shopkeeper’s word. Your thoughts pull you inward, to where your own misery lies. Which has your sorrow become? Tears? No, otherwise you’d cry. A sword? No, you haven’t wounded anyone yet. A bomb? You’re still living. You can’t describe your sorrow; it hasn’t taken shape yet. It hasn’t had a chance to show itself. If only it wouldn’t take shape at all. If only it would fall silent, be forgotten… It will be so, of course it will… As soon as you see Murad, your son… Where are you Murad?”

Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, Earth & Ashes and; The Patience Stone. 08/24/2010

1st read: 08/20-23/2010 ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Apr 4, 2013 |
Almost a short story, a moving story of a grandfather faced with raising a newly deaf grandson. It shows the horror induced by the Russians who have destroyed his village and killed his son, and at the end of a journey to find his son - and it is a journey story - the added indignity of further lies of bosses. So sad. Cleanly written. ( )
  carterchristian1 | Jan 8, 2011 |
Poignant and powerful, this novella, 81 pages long, is about the destruction of an Afghan village with the arrival of the Soviet army. Dastaguir, an elderly Afghan man, who was witness to the devastation and the murder of his family, says:

“Images and dreams of what you’ve witnessed and wish you hadn’t … it’s Murad and his mother or Yassin and his mother or fire and ash or shouts and wails …”

A very violent and tragic moment in history. ( )
  odrach | Oct 16, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atiq Rahimiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lukavská, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lukavský, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099442124, Paperback)

Earth and Ashes is a story of such spareness and power it leaves the reader reeling. Set during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, it is a fable about war, family, home and tradition. An old man and his grandson sit in a deserted landscape of dusty roads and looming mountains. What are they waiting for? As we watch them we learn their story...Atiq Rahimi has managed to condense centuries of Afghan history into his short tale of three very different generations. At the same time, he has created a story that is universal in its power.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:29 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Un pont, une rivie re asse che e dans un paysage de sole , la gue rite d'un gardien mal lune , une route qui se perd a l'horizon, un marchand qui pense le monde, un vieillard, un petit enfant, et puis l'attente. Rien ne bouge ou presque. Nous sommes en Afghanistan, pendant la guerre contre l'Union sovie tique. Le vieil homme va annoncer a son fils qui travaille a la mine, le pe re du petit, qu'au village tous sont morts sous un bombardement. Il parle, il pense : enfer des souvenirs, des attentes, des remords, des conjectures, des soupc ?ons... C'est une parole nue qui dit la souffrance, la solitude, la peur de n'e tre pas entendu. -- Back cover.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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