I rarely gush books. Okay, that is a lie. But I could say the number of books that I hold close to my heart are few and they are special. One of such books is And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hossieni. You can read my raving review about the book here and when you return I still wouldn’t have done fangirling about the writer. There is something so simple and realistic in his writing that never leaves me unmoved.
I recently listened to an old interview of his a short while ago and I had to revisit some of my favorite passages from his books. I thought I will share some of the quotes I love from And the Mountains Echoed. I think these quotes will make it worthwhile even if I decide to re-read And the Mountains Echoed for the third time. So let us get on with it shall we?
1) he didn’t understand why a wave of something, something like the tail end of a sad dream, always swept through him whenever he heard the jingling, surprising him each time like an unexpected gust of wind. But then it passed, as all things do. It passed.
2) Kabul is … A thousand tragedies per square mile.
3) Parwana feels herself standing on the brink of telling her everything, telling Masooma how wrong she is, how little she knows the sister with whom she shared the womb, how for years now Parwana’s life has been one long unspoken apology. But to what end? Her own relief once again at Masooma’s expense? She bites down the words. She has inflicted enough pain on her sister.
4) A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.
5) She was an extraordinary woman, and I went to bed that night feeling like I was perhaps more than ordinary myself. This was the effect she had on me.
6) I remember that when my parents fought, they did not stop until a clear victor had been declared. It was their way of sealing off unpleasantness, to caulk it with a verdict, keep it from leaking into the normalcy of the next day. Not so with the Wahdatis. Their fights didn’t so much end as dissipate, like a drop of ink in a bowl of water, with a residual taint that lingered.
7) The net effect is that she has made me feel vaguely reprimanded and, what’s more, deserving of it, guilty of wrongs unspoken, offenses I’ve never been formally charged with.
8) a nagging doubt begins to set in. A faint intimation that I have judged Madaline harshly, that we weren’t even that different, she and I. Hadn’t we both yearned for escape, reinvention, new identities? Hadn’t we each, in the end, unmoored ourselves by cutting loose the anchors that weighed us down? I scoff at this, tell myself we are nothing alike, even as I sense that the anger I feel toward her may really be a mask for my envy over her succeeding at it all better than I had.
9) I have waited all my life to hear those words. Is it too late now for this? For us? Have we squandered too much for too long, Mamá and I? Part of me thinks it is better to go on as we have, to act as though we don’t know how ill suited we have been for each other. Less painful that way. Perhaps better than this belated offering. This fragile, trembling little glimpse of how it could have been between us. All it will beget is regret, I tell myself, and what good is regret? It brings back nothing. What we have lost is irretrievable.
10) You’re lucky, Pari. You won’t have to work as hard for men to take you seriously. They’ll pay attention to you. Too much beauty, it corrupts things. She would laugh. Oh, listen to me. I’m not saying I speak from experience. Of course not. It’s merely an observation.
11) You’re saying I’m not beautiful. I’m saying you don’t want to be. Besides, you are pretty, and that is plenty good enough. Je t’assure, ma cherie. It’s better, even.
12) Must have been quite the culture shock, going there.Yes it was. Idris doesn’t say that the real culture shock has been in coming back.
13) I learned that the world didn’t see the inside of you, that it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bone. It was as simple, as absurd, and as cruel as that.
14) Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.
15) It’s a funny thing, Markos, but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.
16) the creative process as a necessarily thievish undertaking. Dig beneath a beautiful piece of writing, Monsieur Boustouler, and you will find all manner of dishonor. Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly.
17) All my life, she gave to me a shovel and said, Fill these holes inside of me, Pari.
18) Perhaps if she had grimaced at him, said something infantile, full of loathing and hate. An eruption of rancor. Perhaps that might have been better. Instead, a clean, diplomatic dismissal. And this note. Don’t worry. You’re not in it. An act of kindness. Perhaps, more accurately, an act of charity. He should be relieved. But it hurts. He feels the blow of it, like an ax to the head.
Are there any authors that have affected you as much? Are there any books that you read for the writing even though you knew how the story goes? Let us talk. I would love some recommendations.
If I had to list out the top ten of my most favorite books, at least two would be about Afghanistan. Given their rich and diverse culture and complex history, it has always been a pleasure reading about the country. So when I got the review request for The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan, I grabbed the offer without any second thought. Read on more to know how The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan stands in comparison to my other favourites from the same land.
Book Name: The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan
Author: Rajesh Talwar
Genre: Fiction – Drama
Characters: Mohsin, James Stewarrt, Mumtaz, Pierre, Amala.
Disclaimer: Thanks to The Tales Pensieve for the free copy of the book.
The story revolves around four main characters – Mohsin, a rational social worker turned terrorist, Mumtaz, Mohsin’s love interest and aid worker, James Stewart a British consultant and Amala, a Bangladeshi aid worker. When Mohsin’s family is destroyed by the American army, he is looped into the Jihadi movement, albeit reluctantly. He tries to quench his need to avenge the death of his family with his faith, and his rationale is repeatedly tested. Losing Mumtaz to Pierre, another superior from DRAC doesn’t help matters.Mumtaz, though in love with Mohsin, marries Pierre so that she could help her domestically abused mother to get off from the clutches of her stepfather and the patriarchal society. We follow through her life, understanding how she copes with her very French and disappointed mother in law and if she gets to meet her ex again.
Amala, an economic scholar who is friends with James and K-Jim, works in dangerous areas to provide for her family and relatives back in Bangladesh. She is torn about accepting James’ proposal for the same reason. James has tried everything at his hand to make her accept his proposal and is worried about his competitor K Jim, who is the target of Mohsin’s attack.
The story spins around the fateful night that the attackers target the Iftar guesthouse at Kabul. While Mohsin gets ready to carry out his attack, Mumtaz comes down to Kabul once again to pick her mother and incidentally she and the other characters stay at the very place Mohsin is supposed to attack. Did Mohsin and Mumtaz meet again? Did he avenge the death of his village and whom did Amala end up choosing to marry? The last part of the novel answers these questions and more.
I loved the smaller quirkier characters like Meena, the quintessential Afghan sister who hated the imposing Taliban and was forever searching for a beautiful bride for his brother. Or Delphine, Mumtaz’s mother in law, who turned from a dissatisfied mother in law to a friend who could confide in her daughter in law.
I love reading about the Taliban and their rigid society set up in their war-torn country. Though there is very less about them in the book, their teachings and their ‘rationale’ to aid people to understand the need for their ideas, have never stopped amusing me. I, like Mohsin, could not help but try to reason it out yet fail miserably. Personal rantings aside, I liked the way that the author had handled the reasonings of the Mullah and thereby Taliban for every one of their teaching.
Though the book is a tad bit lengthy and the plot line predictable, the author held my attention with tales from the culture rich Afghan. The author did not dwell much about the history of Afghan and made up for it with the down to earth stories from the Taliban’s Afghan. The characters were likeable and their actions believable, but I felt there could have been more to characters other than Mohsin.
If you want to have a quick and easy dig into the Afghan tales, grab The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan up right away!
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.
When a friend of mine 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 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.