Earth and Ashes, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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.


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Review by

For fans of McCarthy's <i>The Road</i>, this is the book to read. It's gritty, real and important - and no baby eating Zombies! Written in the Persian language variant of Afghanistan known as Darsi in 2000 (pre-911), it was translated into English in 2002. It's a simple short novella about a tragic event, the kind that happens every day in Afghanistan. Through the eyes of an old man and his young grandson we experience the trauma of war and the angst of modernity pulling the past into the present. The ancient code of honor which holds society together is falling apart and what is left to replace it is deaf to us, an unknown. Although written before 9-11 about the Soviet invasion, it could just as easily be about present day events. Because it is written by a native Afghani in the native language, his sympathy for his culture, the small details and mannerisms, are all enlightening and curious. Afghanistan is such a mystery, a land of contradictions, this short novella goes a long way in revealing some deeper truths.

Review by

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.