Excerpt from A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Door in the Earth

by Amy Waldman

A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman X
A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 400 pages

    Oct 2020, 400 pages


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The children began making long-practiced rearrangements, spreading bedrolls and blankets on the floor, then draping themselves atop them. As composed   as artists' models, they waited for sleep.
Parveen asked Waheed if she could see her room.

This was her room, he said. This was everybody's room.

Not hers, she vowed, imagining waking to pungent breath and entangled limbs, and she told Waheed that she'd assumed she would have her own room. "I'd be happier that way," she said, not troubling herself with why he should care for her happiness.

"No one in the village has their own room. We spend our whole lives sharing," he answered.

Later she would learn that they found it strange, sad even, that Westerners chose to sleep alone, even stranger and sadder that they forced their children, from very young ages, to do so. Over Parveen's time in the village, she would come to question this solitary confinement too.

But not yet. "I'll contribute more if I can have my own room," she said just as the generator moaned into silence, cutting the light. "Perhaps the guest room, where we ate?"

Whispers scurried through the dark. Then lanterns were lit and Waheed picked up a  bedroll  and motioned  for  her  to follow him out the door and down the stairs. She was pleased at her own assertiveness, at its evident success. But instead of taking her back to the guest room, Waheed led her to another chamber, small and stinky. With  shouts and kicks, he displaced a goat and some chickens but not their manure, laid the bedroll on the straw, and said that he would see about finding a door in the morning. He left a single lantern behind, and in its glow Parveen shook with anger, convinced that coming here had been a grave mistake.  Gideon Crane also had stayed with this family, but he had described them as the most gracious hosts. Maybe he was a better guest. Maybe he'd slept where he was told without complaint.

Someone thumped a pitcher of water down nearby, then all went quiet. She blew out  the lantern, and the night  pulled tighter. It is not just the inability  to breathe that you must fight but the fear of the inability to breathe, Crane  had written of his kidnapping from the village, during which a black bag had been pulled over his head. For the panic is as much a threat to you as the bag itself.  It was the panic that drew the bag to my nostrils, making  me suffocate, making  me panic more, until I forced myself to calm down and could breathe again.

She couldn't bear to remove her clothes, grimy as they were from the drive. She crawled onto the bedroll. It still carried the impress of other bodies, and their warmth.

Excerpted from A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman. Copyright © 2019 by Amy Waldman. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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