I just have to begin with I love Khaled Hossieni. There is something magical (sounds cliche I know) about his writing, his choice of words, metaphors and not the least the portrayal of human emotions. This is the second book of his that I am reading (and his third book) and I should say I love it. I don’t fall in love easily, (I mean with authors ) and don’t fall for the hype of the market, if it all I respond to the hype it has been negative, but And the Mountains Echoed has lived to its hype.
Book: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hossieni
Genre: Fiction – Period
Main Characters: Saboor, Parwana, Masooma, Pari, Abdullah, Nila and Mr Wahdati
Setting: Afghanistan;, Greece;, France;, The USA
When Paddy; asked me what the book was about, when I was in about the first 20 pages, I said comfortably about love between siblings. But now I am not quite sure, as it had many more complex emotions and relationships than just the sibling love between the lead pair.
The setting of the book is once again Afghanistan much alike his two other books. Afghanistan pre war, during and post war, yet it is not essentially a war drama. The plot runs across countries like Greece;, France;, and The USA.
The story begins with Saboor narrating an Afghan fairy tale to his children Abdullah and Pari, 10 and 3 respectively, about a father who gives up his son to a Djinn so that he could live a better life. Not knowing that the tale mirrored theirs, the siblings are at peace. Pari is soon traded off to a half French woman Nila, who takes her to France leaving her paralyzed husband Mr Wahdati at the care of Nabi, the kid’s step uncle.
Nabi inherits the Wahdati’s bungalow that he rents out to tourists. Meanwhile the Afghan wars and the changes in political scenario make things difficult for everyone around. Do the kids reunite? How do they find each other, if at all, given the political changes?
I loved the interlinked stories, each narrated by different persons, in their point of views. The different POVs is actually a make or break factor and for me it worked so well that I can not stop gushing about it. The story runs across different time periods, well captured by each different POVs. Though several others had expressed their disappointment, I felt the story had a complete circle, it ended where it started. I accept it had several parallel stories running, yet they had a common theme.
The sister who prevented her sister marrying her love, ended marrying him only to take care of his children. The brother who ran away from the responsibility of taking care of a crippled sister ended up taking care of an estranged husband. The runaway wife with a very radical view of life ended her life after losing her boyfriend to her daughter. The daughter ends up with her long lost brother, who doesn’t even remember her and ends regretting having not taken care of her mother.
The girl whose mom abandoned her due to her facial imperfection, chooses to.stay and take care of her friend’s mom, while he becomes a plastic surgeon and leaves the country to help others. The son of a wealthy landlord understands that he could never love his dad the same way after he finds he killed his friend’s dad.
Khalid had once again proven himself a master story teller by weaving the lives of several persons with a common thread, full of richness and colours. They are well positioned and their personalities have an element of brutal truth – that makes one feel ‘this is what we humans are capable of’ or ‘this is what I could have done’. Their flaws make them what they are, make us feel closer to them, make us feel that they are humane.
I. Totally. Loved it. I am so completely in love with Khaled Hossieni’s writing. I often share the quotes from And the Mountains Echoed, I can not resist myself for I love them very much. Authors like him are the ones that make me pick my pen to write (oh and the crappy ones, who give me the confidence that if they can, I can too) and at the same time, make me feel inadequate.
I can not recommend And the Mountains Echoed enough.