And the Mountains Echoed is Khaled Hosseini’s third novel, published May 21, 2013, and I loved it. As with his previous novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed is set in Afghanistan and focuses on the period of time from before Russia invaded and up to today (1930-40 to present).
Unlike Hosseini’s previous novels, And the Mountains Echoed is different in the styling. He tells the stories of many people’s who’s lives intersected instead of focusing on the point of view of just one character, starting with a small boy named Abdullah who’s sister, Pari, is adopted to a wealthy family. I’ll admit to being at first a little confused trying to connect the next character or two’s stories to the previous, but I was still really enjoying it and it flowed well (by the 3rd or 4th character I was no longer having to pause to think about the connections). I really liked the choice of tell the stories of multiple characters, especially at the end when I could see it coming full circle. Hosseini told the story the way he did for a reason and he’s not just multiple characters for kicks – It’s about people finding each other.
The turmoil in Afghanistan is so heartbreaking and I feel like Hosseini’s novels do beautifully (in a tragic way) in drawing attention to that. Because Afghanistan is so far removed for many people that all many of us know of the country is the war, the political turmoil, and the associations with terrorism. The perception is a political minefield and the lives of ordinary people are forgotten. If Hosseini succeeded in only one thing (although there are many things he succeeded at in this novel), it is that he painted pictures of many people’s lives as they intersected in Afghanistan; the lives of people who stayed there through the political turmoil, the lives of people who left during or after the conflict began, or the lives of doctors or nurses who came to help in the hospitals. It’s a landscape that gives humanity and demonstrates ordinary acts in a country who’s political landscape has overshadowed the ordinary way of life so often.
I also appreciated the under tone of “what could have been”. While never outright said, Hosseini started prior to the early conflict from things like social revolutions and invasion by Russia, I was left with the impression that Hosseini wonders what his homeland could have been like had this not all happened like a really unfortunate series of domino affects, where one thing happened and then another and another. Being from a peaceful country, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully relate to that feeling but I can empathize with it so very much and it’s really sad to think about.
This book is a definite must read if you haven’t read it yet.
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