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Earth and Ashes Hardcover – Aug 24 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (Aug. 24 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590513452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590513453
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #777,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"These days the dead are more fortunate than the living. What are we to do? We're on the eve of destruction." Oct. 8 2010
By Mary Whipple - Published on
Format: Hardcover
(4.5 stars) Earth and Ashes packs more feeling and more power into its few pages than most other books do in hundreds of pages, and few, if any, readers will emerge from it unscathed. Author Atiq Rahimi has recreated the Afghanistan he remembers when it was occupied by the Russians (1979 - 1989). He was seventeen at the time, and life has not improved much for the populace since then. Rahimi's bleak picture of the farming village of Abqul includes the occupiers' casual murder of individuals, the decimation of families, the annihilation of villages, and ultimately the obliteration of whole cultures going back to ancient times. Without preamble or any lengthy setting of the scene, the author introduces a main character who is faced with a family crisis from which he may never recover, then tells that story in plain, direct, and straightforward language which gains impact from its very simplicity.

Dastaguir, accompanied by his small grandson, is walking toward the coal mines of Karkar. The Russians "didn't spare a single life...The village was reduced to dust." All his family members are dead. Though little Yassin has escaped the fires, he is now totally and suddenly deaf, and does not understand why jujube stones which used to click against each when he played with them, are now silent, why Dastaguir will not answer him when he speaks to him, and why the world is suddenly so quiet. Dastaguir and Yassin are looking for Dastaguir's surviving son Murad, Yassin's father, who fled the village to work in the mines four years ago. Dastaguir needs Murad to reconnect with his son, especially now that Yassin is so desperately in need of help.

Talking to himself constantly through the miles, he takes a distanced view of himself, referring always to himself as "you." He imagines meeting with Murad and has nightmares which combine ancient stories with the events of his village. And when a shopkeeper tries to be friendly, Dastaguir has to remind himself that "You wanted to talk to anyone about anything. Now, here is someone who'll listen to what lies in your heart, whose look alone is a comfort. Say something!" Throughout the novella, the author calls to mind the Persian epic The Book of Kings by Ferdusi, which "interweaves Persian myths, legends, and historical events to tell the history of Iran and its neighbors from the creation of the world to the Arab conquest in the seventh century." Three characters in that book loosely parallel characters and actions in this novella.

For a novel in which the "actions" are mostly "reactions to" past events, the author manages to inspire powerful emotional moments. The reader cares for Dastaguir because he reacts with universal human feelings-he gets annoyed at Yassin, and he agonizes over what and how much to tell Murad. With these characters and Yassin inspiring sympathy, the reader is impacted even more fully by the bleakness of the ending-and the continuing hopelessness which we know has continued among the populace during the present war in Afghanistan. Mary Whipple

The Patience Stone
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Earth and Ashes Dec 15 2009
By Stephen Balbach - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the fans of McCarthy's The Road, this is the book they should be reading and which should have won the accolades. 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Earth and Ashes was heavenly Oct. 25 2010
By deedee - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was beautifully covered and in perfect condition.
The story was mystical and unlike anything else I have read about Afghanistan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Land of "Why"s Oct. 4 2009
By tk - Published on
Format: Paperback
Atiq Rahimi, as prove all his other works, masters in making the reader get to the life in Afghanistan in a very short span of time with the help of very limited though extremely strong words... This very short book of his gets you in it immediately and in almost an hour, you are through with it, though to be haunted of "why"s that your entire life, you will never be able to answer just will never be the humanity nor the history....
I thought it was interesting Oct. 29 2013
By Coleen Brown - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is mind provoking but a little disappointing at the end. Rahimi's books all are different and intriguing. I will read his other books.

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