Posted by: billpurdue | November 5, 2012

Hinterland – a ‘must read’

The book I want to write about this time is a world away from Jasper Fforde. Hinterland by Caroline Brothers is the story of two brothers, Aryan and Kabir, aged 14 and 8 respectively, who have left their home country of Afghanistan to escape the rule of the Taliban. They are slowly making their way across the world: their ultimate goal is England and their greatest wish is to go to school. As the story opens they have reached the Balkans; it is cold, it’s late winter as they cross a dangerous river on a boat along with many other refugees. On the other side they are told where to wait for the lorry that will take them further on their journey.


Aryan and Kabir have brought very little with them, just two changes of clothes worn one on top of the other, a small amount of money and a mobile phone. Their first stop in Europe is Greece where, apart from one pay day, they are used for months as slave labour, picking fruit and vegetables. They eventually escape. Their progress towards England comes in fits and starts. Sometimes they are discovered and returned to their last staging point, just like a game of snakes and ladders, only far more desperate. There are few high points and many lows. Their best stroke of luck is when they come across an American- Iranian couple in Paris who buy them meals and new clothes. The ultimate hurdle and the most dangerous one of all is getting across the channel – so near and yet so far.

There have been many tributes to this novel – words like stark, unsentimental, heart-wrenching and compelling. Commentators are right when they say that the main thrust of the story is the relationship between Aryan and Kabir – how the older Aryan has to look out for his young brother, both of them forced to try and survive and get on in a totally adult world. This is a world seen from the refugees’ point of view.  It’s not a book that you might ‘enjoy’. It’s one that, as soon as I started it, I felt I had to read to the end. It’s Caroline Brothers’ first novel: I wonder if she has anything else in the pipeline?

[Bloomsbury £14.99 9781408817759. Out in paperback in 2013]


The Nook is here

I notice that the Kindle now has a rival – the Nook, which originates from the Barnes and Noble book chain in the USA and is priced at £79 to £229. Kindles are already available on the high street (including Waterstone’s) and so are Nooks – including at John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Argos and Waitrose. Have a look at the website to find out what books are available in Nook format.

Meanwhile it’s reported that Kindles have got off to a good start after going on sale at Waterstone’s

I’m reading…

Pure by Andrew Miller. It’s a strange story, but I need to know what happens so I can’t put it down.




  1. My books are available on Nook

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