Khaled Hosseini returns with his third book, And the Mountains Echoed, six years after A Thousand Splendid Suns. Unlike his previous two works, “Mountains” is not a tale woven around two central characters. Rather, it is told as a series of short stories which are seemingly unrelated. Hosseini also shifts the focus from a parent-child relationship to that of the bond between two siblings. This forms the central theme in each of the nine chapters.
The book opens with a tale about a demon, told by Saboor, to his children, Abdullah and Pari. Just like in the story, Saboor is faced with a heartbreaking decision to give away his daughter Pari to a couple from Kabul in exchange for money. The separation creates a big hole in Abdullah’s life. Pari meanwhile is able to forget about her elder brother as she is just four years old at the time. The parting forces the reader to wish for a reunion already. Although it is an inevitable event, Hosseini takes the reader to the destination through a series of riveting tales, all of which explore the complexity of human emotions, especially at a personal level.
And the Mountains Echoed also delves into understanding how the decisions taken by us impact others, transcending boundaries of time and space. The story of two sisters, Parwana and Masooma, is a testament to this. Parwana is forced to lead a life ridden with guilt after committing, out of envy, the cruel act of crippling her sister. The author effortlessly manages to show how a simple choice leads to a cascade of experiences that couldn’t have been anticipated at the time of making the choice.
The characters possess a gritty resolve within themselves. It gives them the strength to live with their decisions, inspite of grief and remorse. Take for example Nabi, the older brother of Parwana and Masooma who aids in Pari’s adoption in the hope of becoming Nila’s lover. On realising his foolishness, he subjects himself to take care of Nila’s bedridden husband. He then seeks redemption by facilitating the reunion of Pari and Abdullah after 58 years.
The book provides a case-study in how the feeling of a void in one’s life causes them to reach out for their roots. This yearning for the past is emboldened for the want of closure. It is similar to the way the reader seeks a happy ending to a narration.
Hosseini, by introducing new characters in each chapter, refuses to stick to the norms of fiction writing. Hence, he develops a close-knit meshwork of characters who are far from being just supporting roles.
And the Mountains Echoed – A must read
And the Mountains Echoed, like its predecessors, manages to capture the soul of a war-ravaged nation in a touching manner. We are left with no doubt that Hosseini is a gifted storyteller. He has once again left us with tears in our eyes and a smile on our lips.