Earth And Ashes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 12:00am

Earth And Ashes

by Atiq Rahimi

Vintage $90

Earth And Ashes was acclaimed in France as a masterpiece when it was first published, and Rahimi, an Afghan political exile, was hailed as a prodigy. In a mere 54 pages Rahimi has condensed centuries of Afghanistan's history into a story about three generations of Afghan men.

Set during the Soviet occupation, it follows an old man, Dastaguir, and his grandson, Yassin, as they set out through an unforgiving landscape searching for the coal mine where the old man's son, Murad, works. A Russian bomb has killed everyone else in their village and deafened Yassin. They hope to bring the news to Murad. Yassin at first wonders why the world isn't making noise, before eventually realising he is deaf.

Haunting in its spareness, Earth And Ashes is a tale of loss and human perseverance amid the madness of war.