And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

 

 

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Have you ever read a book which you absolutely like and your mind is all over the universe after reading it? And still think about some characters and hard to review because can’t think what to say and how to articulate those thoughts? And the Mountains Echoed is indeed a “thousand tragedies per square mile” as Hussain mentioned in the book. It has been few months since I read this story (or short stories) of human characters and I still can’t put my thoughts into words.



The central theme of the story is about two siblings, Abdhullah and Pari that separated because of the younger sister, Pari, was adopted by a wealthy family where her step uncle is working as a chauffeur. But this is not just their story, this is the story of Abdhulla, Pari, Parwana, Masooma, Nabi, Suleiman, Idris, Timur, Roshi, Nila, Adel, Gholam, Iqbal, Markos, Ordelia, Thalia, and Pari. This is the story of all of them, the story that changes the lives of all of them because of Abdulla’s father, Saboor made a decision to give up one of his children. The story encompasses many years, more than 50 years, till the two siblings find their way to each other.

The structure of the novel is different compared to Hussain’s early work. And the Mountains Echoed is halfway between a novel and a short story collection. Each chapter introduces a different character, focuses on how the character has developed so far and the purpose of their lives, and how they connect to the story. Behind each character’s shadow Hussain tells the tale of family, love and loss. At the end of each chapter I find myself staring into the space and still thinking about the people that I just read. It was hard for me to move into a voice of another character so soon though I was eager to find out where all these stories will end. It would have been a messy read if someone less talented had constructed this complicated layout, yet Hussain’s simple and captivating writing has remarkably managed to shove us into the lives of these thorny people.



Hussain has a knack for crafting characters and emotional connections that stick in our hearts long after the pages are turned. Sometimes those characters are very familiar and you see yourself in them, or you see someone else that you know, a friend, a family member, or a colleague. They all have good and bad, both within them, they are just imperfect human creatures. Ashamedly I realized that as Idris we all, even myself, encapsulated in our own colorful lives and even though we want to give a little color to those monochrome lives, we are not yet ready to give up even a tiny little shade of color from our lives. But there are people like Nibu and Parwana who look after their loved ones tenderly in their worst situations without expecting anything. It’s heartbreaking to live through the pages of Abdullah and Pari’s separation, Parwana and Massoma’s separation, Sulaiman’s last breath, little Roshi’s tragedy, Iqbal’s timeworn life, and Pari’s reunion with the old senile Abdhullah.

Nila is one of the leading and most appealing, complicated characters in this tale. She is a stereotype of female artists, who is emotionally unstable, attractive, a smoker, and who has a bad taste in men. The journey of Nila’s life seems somewhat very exciting, sometimes it’s heartbreaking, and sometimes it’s so depressing. The idea of mother and daughter dating the same guy was so disturbing though they were not blood related. Because of that Pari became my least favorite character until she got married and had kids. None of these relationships are simple, but Hussain masterly brings out the happiness, frustrations, and the pain of each one of those relationships beautifully.

As always with Hussain, the writing and the characters are rich. At the end of each chapter I find myself wishing to spend little more time with those characters. Even though I love all the chapters and adored every page, I could have done without the stories of Idris, Markos, and Adel, plus I wish there were more pages narrated by Abdhullah. Yet every chapter adds more color and vital links to the story.

This is one of the most beautiful, powerful and emotional book that I have read recently. And the Mountains Echoed is a highly recommended book for all bookworms around the world.