And the Mountains Echoed delves into the bonds between siblings. The storylines span across families, history, and continents. While the book focuses, once again, on the myriad of relationships within families, And the Mountains Echoed is a definite departure from Hosseini’s previous two books.
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: