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Sunday, 12 January 2014

And The Mountains Echoed, 2013, Khaled Hosseini ***

You all remembered when I excitedly announced on the 10th of March 2013 that Khaled Hosseini's latest novel will be out soon. If not, please click here. Luckily, I came across the book in a library.
Abdullah and Pari are two siblings who live with their poor father, step mother and half brother, Iqbal. Pari was merely three years old when, out of poverty, was sold to a rich family in Kabul. Later on, she moved to Paris with the woman she thought to be her mother. In Paris, as events unfolded; she got married and had children. Flashes of her life come to her but she couldn't make them out because she left her brother when she was very young. Iqbal left Afghanistan to Pakistan as the war erupted. When he came back many years later with his son, he found out that a war lord had settled on his family land. He was left homeless. While, Abdullah left for California and did not connect with his sister until 50 years later more or less. And many more characters were linked in the story.
I guess the author was trying to narrate on the aftermath of the war that devastated Afghanistan, his country of origin. For instance: the difficulties and corruption involved in reclaiming a family land and problems displaced families face in reconnecting with their loved ones.

However, in my opinion, "And the Mountains Echoed" is nothing compared to Khaled's previous works. It should have been promoted as a collection of interlinked short stories, as simple as that, since none of the characters were completely developed. I was totally caught off balance wondering  why I was introduced to so many of them, who were, as a matter of fact, not bringing anything to the main story. At a certain point I felt an absence of meaning and content. I am sorry to say that this novel was somewhat all over the place.
All the same, Khaled Hosseini still writes beautifully, I couldn't expect less anyway. Again, I will like to add that since "The Kite Runner" was a best seller that made him (very) famous, we are all expecting him to provide us with a similar thrill. Perhaps, that was the problem.

Finally, I still like Khaled Housseini as a writer, I will still read any other book he writes in the future open-mindedly. Please, feel free to read this novel if it comes across your way.

11 comments:

  1. Someone else was telling me the same thing, that this book is a let down from "The Kite Runner". It's a pretty big book to be short stories. Hmmmm. I think I may not like it now. I actually purchased both of the books at a book sale for $2 each. I'll try to read "The Kite Runner" this year and leave "And the Mountains Echoed" to decorate the shelf.

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  2. Lmao@ to decorate the shelf. The kite runner was his first work, it was an amazing read. That was what put him in the lime light actuallly.
    "And the Mountains Echoed" is such a big book to waste your time on, except you want to learn as a writer how not to be all over the place.

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  3. I might agree with you Mary, having read The Kite Runner but since I am yet to read his 3rd novel, I may hold judgement until I have done so. A Thousand Splendid Suns, his 2nd novel is nowhere near the first I will add. I've asked my sister to get me a copy of And the Mountains Echoed. (I will still go ahead to read it) because like you said, I will still read anything from Khaled!)

    Thanks for the frank review and Happy New year, Mary.

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    1. Afua, yeah, a thousand splendid sun was not as good as the kite runner. But it was not bad at all. I look forward to your opinion on "And the mountains echoed"
      Happy New Year to you too.

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  4. I read and greatly enjoyed The Kite Runner and have been looking for A Thousand Splendid Suns. Sometimes we, the audience (or readers), expect too much. LOL. Yes, we do! We read an author's work with the best work in mind. Subconsciously comparing, forgetting that each work of art has a life of its own. Only a few authors have truly had a lot of excellent books to their name. Else, it is always one or two.

    Thanks for this. I like your candidness.

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    1. You make sense here...I could not agree more.
      Thanks for reading.

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    2. Fair point Nana. I keep forgetting this is why I try to steer away from following "authors" per se and just make it a point to try to find good books, or books that speak to me. But is one way better than the other - to analyze a book as whole (in and of itself) or to analyze a book against the authors entire body of work? And then there is the aspect of analyzing the book against other bodies of work within the same genre which is what book awards is all about right?

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  5. I am almost finished with the novel, and it is one of those books I don't want to end. It is beautifully written, as are all his novels. His characters are well drawn, and they are at the same time unique and universally human.

    It is really a series of tales, but held together with a thread.

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    1. I am glad you are enjoying it.

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  6. Third in the series of some fantastic piece of writing by Hosseini, this book traces the journeys of a brother and sister through years. The plot of the book is slightly crowded at places but the emotional content is par excellence.

    In particular, the character of Nila brings out the paradox between modernity and tradition in the Afghan society. Though the story is set in war ravaged Afghanistan, it relates beautifully to any of the developing countries, including India.

    While the book could have done without excessive character play like Thalia, Timur etc, the author manages to breathe life into each one of them. Be it the relationship between Parwana and Masooma, Suleiman and Nabi, Idris and Roshi or Abdollah and Pari, the author brings out the frustrations, joys and pains of each of the relationships beautifully, particularly in the background of the ever changing societal and political environs of Afghanistan. And the author manages all this in his simple poetic writing style. The book explodes with colours of myriad emotions and characters.

    Overall, a recommended reading for its musty, earthy and emotional content.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Neha. Khaled is a beautiful writer.

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