Atiq Rahimi — Earth & Ashes (2000)
Setting: The Soviet-Afghan war.
What’s it about? An old man waits by the roadside with his grandson. Slowly his situation is revealed: his family have been killed by Soviet bombing, his grandson is deaf: “Why did the Russians take away everyone’s voices?”, he asks. The man agonises over how he will tell his son that his wife and mother are dead. A short novella but a tragically poignant vignette of a country wracked by conflict.
You know, father, sorrow can turn to water and spill from your eyes, or it can sharpen your tongue into a sword, or it can become a bomb that one day will explode and destroy you. ”
Why you should read it: Its a subtle but beautiful microcosm of the sorrows of war that can be applied to any point of Afghan history from the last forty years.
My rating: **