And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Cover via Goodreads. ARC provided by Goodreads and Riverhead Books.

Cover via Goodreads. ARC provided by Goodreads and Riverhead Books.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

A brother torn from his sister by a cruel twist of fate at only seven years of age. A caretaker drawn into the life of his enigmatic employer, a recluse with a large amount of riches. A repressed daughter who dates her mother’s old flame, setting inevitable consequences into motion. In his new 400-page novel, And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini does not tell the story one of character, of two characters, or of three – he delves into several generations. He takes apart the threads that tie us together and examines each string, sifting through the tapestry to find our souls.

Family. Hosseini’s narrative travels around the world in And the Mountains Echoed, from Afghanistan to France to the United States to the Greek island Tinos. Despite the broad scope of the story, there’s one theme that brings it all together: family. Comprised of several vignettes, each chapter of the book provides a snapshot, and sometimes a full on photo album, of a character’s life. A minor character in one chapter may be the protagonist of another, while the consequences of various events are viewed in a plethora of perspectives. Betrayal, sacrifice, jealousy, love, and essentially the entire gamut of emotions encompass the story as it gradually expands outward. Within the first 140 pages I felt tears prick the back of my eyes twice, a testament to the strength of Hosseini’s pathos.

His writing cuts deep like a sword and spreads details like a fine knife at the same time. Unlike his previous novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed travels from one time period to the next without much linearity. While confusing at times, especially when done without a proper transition, Hosseini captures the most important parts of every new setting in a way that appears effortless. In one passage he describes a character’s profession as a plastic surgeon and in the next he portrays the arbitrary yet powerful effect of beauty. While some of the stories within his latest book lack any sense of immediacy, for the most part they manage to entice with a tamed energy, mastered by Hosseini after years of practice.

Marketed as adult fiction, And the Mountains Echoed will appeal to readers of all ages and walks of life. Khaled Hosseni has worked as a doctor, as a Goodwill Envoy in his native country Afghanistan, and for the past ten years or so, as a writer. His experience in these intersecting areas enriches his writing with subtle particulars lacking in other works of historical fiction. Readers are only left to wonder: what will he write next?

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15 Comments

Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

15 responses to “And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

  1. I’m really looking forward to reading this one. I enjoyed The Kite Runner a lot and since I know a lot more about Afghanistan now than I did when I read the book, I’m excited to see how the book is. I haven’t read his other book Thousand Splendid Suns, but I should get around to reading it sometime.

    • The additional cultural context may bring extra enjoyment to the book – I actually haven’t either one of his other books and I really need to. I hope you love this one when you get around to reading it. (:

  2. I am so glad I found this review! I almost (almost!) interviewed Khaled Hosseini when I was working for a magazine in Phoenix. But he cancelled his tour for “A Thousand Splendid Suns” because there was a family emergency. Maybe I should try to get him again!!??!!?? Or, I’ll take your advice on this wonderful review and read his new book!

  3. I’ve read A Thousand Splendid Suns but not this one yet! Should try it sometime :)

  4. I’m so glad you liked it. I can’t wait to get my hand on this. :)

  5. K.

    Are you still a senior in high school? Because I’m very impressed with your writing. Very sophisticated, quietly passionate.

    I loved Hosseini’s first two novels and I’m sure I will, at the very least, like this one a lot. It sounds like this is his most ambitious one yet. Anyway, I’ve just bought it and can’t wait :) Wonderful review!

    • Yep, I’m going to graduate in a few weeks! Thank you for your kind words. Even if it is his most ambition I can’t wait to read his other works – thank you for reading and commenting. (:

  6. I liked Kite Runner a little too much. So I immediately pounced upon A Thousand Splendid Suns; it was a little DS. I shouldn’t have read such a similar book in such a short period. The fact that this book again is based on Afghanistan makes me a little apprehensive. I will pick up this book some day, one day.

    • I wish I had read the Kite Runner so I could help you compare, but you should take your time in terms of starting this book! It’s great that you’re not forcing yourself to read it simply for the sake of reading it.

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