Two boys are crossing Europe. Only fourteen and eight years old, they have nothing but the clothes on their backs and a dwindling inheritance stitched into the lining of a belt. Their goal is a future they can no longer wait for in Afghanistan, one they hope to find in faraway England.
As they travel, the older, Aryan, teaches his brother Kabir the capitals of the countries they'll pass through-a way of mapping the course in case anything should happen to separate them. Together they recite a list of cities they can't yet imagine, so as not to forget the names: Kabul-Tehran-Istanbul-Athens- Rome-Paris-London. Though their journey is filled with moments of boyish wonder and adventure, the two also confront hunger and exhaustion, cold and heat, violence and confusion, and are exploited for their labor and forced to rely on strangers who shouldn't be trusted.
Caroline Brothers first met these "lost boys" of Afghanistan as a journalist in France, in makeshift refugee camps. Her report on them made the front page of the New York Times, but she wanted to go deeper, to tell their story in human terms. Hinterland, her debut novel, raises questions about the global community's responsibilities toward these children, dispensing with journalistic remove to emerge as a work of incredible empathy, beautifully written.