Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Genre: Literary Fiction, Cultural Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
A man sets out from his small Afghani village with his young daughter in tow, headed for the big city of Kabul. Though he’s tried to leave his son, Abdullah, behind, Abdullah’s obstinance has surprised him, and so the three, the father and two children, Abdullah and Pari, make their way to the city. This seemingly small journey will change their lives forever and impact hundreds of others over the course of the next sixty years.
In And the Mountains Echoed, one character says, “Kabul is…a thousand tragedies per square mile.” A quiet, but profound, statement, and it’s a theme that Hosseini explores in his latest novel. This isn’t a book of earth-shattering sadness or huge tragedy; instead, it’s about the smaller, more personal realities that Afghani people must face every day. In that sense, it feels like a quieter novel than Hosseini’s first two, at once more personal, yet also broader, relating to all the people of Afghanistan rather than telling a single story.
The novel encompasses many years, from the early 1950s to the present; though it seemingly tells the story of one family, it does so in a disparate way. The reader is provided with glimpses of these characters as they grow, change, and make their ways in the world. In some ways, And the Mountains Echoed can be seen as a series of (very) interconnected short stories, rather than a singular novel; though they revolve around the same people generally, readers are treated to many different stories, many different tragedies, on every single page.
But that’s not to say And the Mountains Echoed is a sad book. Of course, there is much sadness within its pages, as there is much sadness in the plight of Afghani people. However, Hosseini manages to balance those tragedies with small bursts of happiness and joy. Whether it’s the enduring friendship between a moneyed man and his chauffer or the motivations of a Western doctor who’s come to post-9/11 Kabul to help in any way he can, there is so much good in this novel. Rather than leaving this novel with a heavy heart, you will feel uplifted by every page of it. Even when things seem bleak, if you have faith in Hosseini, he will reward you magnificently.
The characters in And the Mountains Echoed are incredibly well drawn, and that’s saying something considering some of them only appear for a few pages here and there. Each and every one of them leaps off the page, and readers will be aching to know what happens to them, hoping that somehow, everything will turn out okay. These are characters who will stick with you long after the pages are turned, accompany you as you go about your daily life, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about what Hosseini has crafted.
You can’t review a Hosseini novel without mentioning his gorgeous prose, and he has outdone himself in And the Mountains Echoed. It is mind-bogglingly beautiful; I cannot describe in words how wonderful the language is. Indeed, I feel that it’s hard to relate just how good this book is as a whole; I can guarantee you that, despite my gushing, I have not done this book justice. It’s quite possibly his best book yet; quiet, beautiful, and incredibly moving. I don’t think I need to tell you to pick this one up as soon as it’s released.
Other books by Khaled Hosseini: