Being a huge fan of the bestselling author Khaled Hosseini, I will be careful not to be biased in the review of his latest book “And The Mountains Echoed”. After a six year long wait, Hosseini brings to us another tale, or should I say a number of intricately woven tales. Haunting stories of love, of longing, of jealousy and deep regret, tragedies that surpassed from brother to sister, to cousins to caretakers, the complex nature of family and the number of trials one undergoes trying to face up to your own kin.
The very first page of the book had my favourite Rumi quote and I cannot tell you how happy that made me. I knew that the journey the book was going to take me on was going to be of wrongdoings and rightdoings. I knew better than to expect misfortunes and excruciating grief. What I didn’t expect was the sudden moments of joy, the little moments that made me laugh, even when my heart felt crushed for the characters Hosseini had brewed in fine detail.
The story starts with a father narrating an Afghan fable to his children, Abdullah and Pari. Later in the story you understand the significance of that tale. You understand why it is that their father chose that night to narrate that specific tale. You realize that it is true, sometimes a finger must be cut to save a hand. Sometimes, and most of the times, the decisions we make aren’t ones that we want to. Also, there are questions which cannot be answered in yes or no.
“I now know that some people feel unhappiness the way others love: privately, intensely, and without recourse.”
Starting that night, a journey begins that will take you from Afghanistan to Kabul to Paris, across continents and oceans. You will find yourself grieving after a chapter only to be subjected to a totally new kind of sadness in the next. There’s hideous grief and suffering, there is also treachery but underlying it all there is love. There’s hope and even after everything else dies, that’s what lives on.
“The rope that pulls you from the flood can become a noose around your neck.”
Hosseini is a very gifted storytelller. There is something very fascinating about each and every story he was woven in this novel. His characters are distinct and each flawed in ways they know but do not accept. They make decisions and these decisions have long-lasting repercussions. Repercussions that transcend from generations to generations. Almost like a hand-me-down.
“Kabul is… a thousand tragedies per square mile.”
Underneath it all, there is the imagery of Afghanistan. The true picture and imagery that Hosseini never fails to create. I would also say that if you’re pinning your hopes too high based on his previous two books “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” you probably shouldn’t. This novel, it’s nothing like those two. There is some kind of safety in this book, something you know that is bound to happen before the chapter ends. In the previous novels, you never knew what to expect.
“Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
After finishing the book there are some characters that stand out which would be Abdullah and Pari’s uncle Nabi, Nabi’s object of affection Nila Wahdati and of course, Markos Varvaris and the bond he has with his mother. I would say that the book is honestly a one-time read but that too, a difficult one because it can be so tragic and painful, you may want to put it down altogether. However, remember that Hosseini knows how to balance out the pain with momentary joy. He knows how to pull every string in your heart and he rightly does so in And The Mountains Echoed.