An amazing short novel about an Afghan student who seeks freedom from politics and religious fundamentalism. Rahimi’s work provides a rare insight into Afghanistan.
In his extraordinary novella Earth and Ashes (published world-wide and now a feature film), Atiq Rahimi distilled all the suffering of the Afghan people into the heart-breaking story of a grandfather seeking revenge for his daughter’s death. In his new novel he once again uses his gift for economy to send the reader deep into the fractured mind and emotions of a country caught between religion and the political machinations of the world’s superpowers.
Farhad is a typical student, interested in wine, women and poetry, and negligent of the religious conservatism of his grandfather. But one night changes all that. It is 1979, and Afghanistan is in the early days of the pro-Soviet coup. Farhad goes out drinking with a friend who is about to flee to Pakistan. A few hours later he regains consciousness in a strange house, beaten and confused. At first he thinks he is dead. Then he begins to remember what happened. As his mind sifts through its memories, fears and hallucinations, and the outlines of reality start to harden, he realizes that, if he is to escape the soldiers who wish to finish the job they started, he too must leave everything he loves behind him and find a way to get to Pakistan.