But something else too at the edge of it all, at the rim of her vision – and this is what draws her most – an elusive shadow. A figure. At once soft and hard. The softness of a hand holding hers. The hardness of knees where she’d once rested her cheek. She searches for his face, but it evades her, slips from her, each time she turns to it. Pari feels a hole opening up in her. There has been in her life, all her life, a great absence. Somehow, she has always known. – from And The Mountains Echoed –
A father tells his children the story of a div, a creature who forces parents to choose one child to give away so that they could save the rest of their children from death. It feels like a fable, but its dark edges have a ring of truth. And then it is the autumn of 1952 and four year old Pari her older brother, Abdullah, make a journey across the desert with their father to Kabul. Neither one understands the implications of this journey, but it will forever change their lives. From this one moment in time, Khaled Hosseini’s newest novel spirals out through the decades, taking readers to Paris, San Francisco and the Greek island of Tinos. But it all begins in Kabul, under the searing Afghanistan sun.
And the Mountains Echoed tells the lives of many characters – Abdullah and Pari, their Uncle Nabi, Nila Wahdati who is married too young to a wealthy man, cousins Idris and Timur who could not be more different, the deformed Thalia and the mother who abandons her, a Greek doctor who spends his life helping Afganis, and many more. The novel is, in essence, a series of linked stories about these characters – all of whom are strong enough to carry an entire book had Hosseini wished to do that.
The reader does not always see the connections between the characters immediately, but as their distinct voices ring out across the pages, it becomes clear how their lives have intersected with those of the other characters. The effect is powerful.
Khaled Hosseini is a magnificent storyteller. His prose is captivating, deeply moving, and insightful. But it is his characters which elevate his novels. His latest effort after six years of work, is another example of the range of Hosseini’s talent.
I did not want this book to end. I savored the pages. I found myself completely engaged in the lives of the many characters. I was transported through time and across thousands of miles. And the Mountains Echoed is a novel about family, loss, identity, and connection with others. Hosseini explores the idea that a simple choice will echo across time and have deep ramifications for generations to come.
At the moment I heard that this book was to be published, I began to anticipate it. I longed to read it. And it did not disappoint. If you have not read a Hosseini novel yet, I urge you to pick up a copy of this one when it goes on sale later this month.
Readers who love historical fiction, multi-generational family sagas and character-driven novels of the highest caliber will not want to miss And the Mountains Echoed.
Highly, highly recommended.
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FTC Disclosure: I received an Advance Readers Edition of this novel from the publisher for review on my blog.