Book Review: And The Mountains Echoes (by Khalid Hosseini)


By Ayesha Huma ( CTP- 14 , Railways Business )

“I suspect the truth is that, we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us”

Uncommon lives of ordinary people, amidst stories of despair, turmoil and shimmer of hope, encapsulated in lines filled with symbolism and assembly of mystical words. That probably is the best definition of the Khalid Hosseini novel 3rd in the row “And the Mountains Echoed”

Known for his expressive narration of deepest human emotions and adding soul to saga of separation and creating imagery of war torn land, Hossieni has, in this book too, continued the tale of re-shaping of Afghanistan during the 80s as in the previous two best-selling predecessors :  “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”.

Set in the background of Afghanistan with timeline shifting from 1950s to 2000s, starting from the time when Afghanistan was a lot different from what we know today, when life there was still about petty day-to-day living, when it was not a land of “war or rather wars”, the story has two siblings at its centre. However, in its entirety the book switches stories among various groups of characters and how they are linked to one another. And each group adds a certain theme to the book. The first story of two Siblings and their extraordinary bond brings into light the almost supernatural link blood relations possess and the idea of being the only one for one another in a world that falls apart. Further we witness the complexity of marriage and love among characters of Mr and Mrs Wahadati and Nabi. It gets ahead while bringing into light the intricacies of human thoughts and behaviour in the characters of Taimur and Idris. Not always are people defined by Black and White. There’s some grey, a part which is neither right nor wrong. Taimur who easily socialises and does what he thinks is right. Idris, on the other hand caught in a complexity of responsibilities and duties, wanting to do the greater good, yet unable to move the extra mile.

 And then we are taken to America, where many Afghans found a second phase of life after war hit their world.

Although a bit slow in its approach, “And the Mountains Echoed” won’t disappoint an avid Khalid Hosseini fan who has had high hopes after the previous two novels.

The strong point of the novel is the signature style of the writer. Hard hitting lines coated in easy, smooth words which leave you with awe at the end of the sentence when you cannot help but marvel at the powerful imagery it creates. Simple universal thoughts each one of us has about life, put on paper as the words of characters by the soulful writer that he is.

“A spectacularly foolish and baseless faith, against enormous odds, that a world you do not control will not take from you the one thing you cannot bear to lose.”

“And the Mountains Echoed” does full justice to the reputation of the writer and to the people of Afghanistan whose stories of ruin have been penned by many but the bits of naive thoughts and emotions before war took over and the life like any ordinary human have been captured by fever like Hossieni. 

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