And the Mountains Echoed….
A story set up in the war torn lands of Afghanistan, a story that revolves around a family that unfortunately got separated, a story that spans across generations, a story that makes us go around the world and takes us back and forth in time, a story that paints it’s own wonderful painting on the vibrant canvass of emotions, you know you are reading Khalid Hosseini when you see all this in a story. I read Khalid Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed” recently . Here is the blurb of the book.
So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their
father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.
One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.
Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.
I think the first line of the blurb pretty much explains the intentions of the author and sets the prelude for the story that is going to come. This is a story story that has many stories within it. The story starts and ends with Abdullah and Pari but it does not limit itself to them. The stories of their parents, their kids, their grandchildren , their well wishers and friends are all put in here and mark my words they are etched wonderfully. There is no particular chronology followed here and the author shows his mastery and displays his awesome story telling skills.
Khalid Hosseini has stuck to his general theme that involves Afghans , the wars and the innocent civilians. The difference this time is that he takes the story to rural Afghanistan. There are many characters and stories in this book as compared to “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. So in a way the author took a risk and was able to pull it off well. The way he created the seemingly disjoint stories and narrated them was good . The poignancy of the stories would leave your eyes moist and you would at times close the book , close your eyes, recreate the scene , empathise with the characters, reflect on what has happened and then move forward. Such is the power of narration in the book.
I think this in a way was the villain of the book too. Till half way the book looks magical but some how loses steam in the second half as there are more stories there. The stories are indeed very effective but some how they would not keep the reader glued to the book. That I think was a big problem for the book. At times I was wondering if the stories indeed made sense in the context of the book.
Being a huge fan of Khalid Hosseini I can’t resist my self from comparing this one with the previous works of his, while this one is indeed engaging, It definitely lacks the magic of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” or “The Kite Runner”. That being said, this still stands out as one of the very good books I read, I think it is the burden of the over expectations that made me reach the conclusion I just stated.
This indeed is a good read , do pick the book, read it slowly and dive into each of the characters , the way you look at your life would definitely change once you complete reading this book.