And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Published May 2013, Read March 2017
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ (of 5)
“They tell me I must wade into waters, where I will soon drown. Before I march in, I leave this on the shore for you. I pray you find it, sister, so you will know what was in my heart as I went under.”
Well, Khaled Hosseini has done it again. I’m not sure he is capable of creating anything less than a masterpiece. While I would rank this in third place of his three novels, that’s not saying much. Midway through the book, I posted an update to Goodreads saying “I’m convinced Khaled Hosseini is the greatest writer to have ever lived.” Upon finishing And the Mountains Echoed, I am only more sure.
This novel is laid out differently from The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns in that it is more a collection of short stories than a traditional narrative. If anyone has read Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, it is rather like that. Each character gets an opportunity to tell their individual stories of love, loss, failure, and joy, spanning the globe and the twentieth century with their lives. From Afghanistan to the Greek Isles, Paris, and California, Hosseini’s characters illuminate the single moment upon which the novel hinges.
Perhaps this story is not as gut-wrenching as Hosseini’s two previous novels, but the joy in reading his work does not lie solely in his ability to construct powerful and profound narratives. It also lies in his incredible skill with words. Quite often I found myself rereading a sentence or passage simply to savor its beautiful construction.
Like his other books, Khaled Hosseini’s own life shimmers through the pages. A quick read of his biography reveals obvious parallels to the lives revealed in And the Mountains Echoed. This has always been his great strength: he writes what he intimately knows. While not biographical even in the broadest sense, Hosseini’s own experiences allow him to provide a depth and clarity to a huge cast of characters that in the hands of a less skilled novelist would fall flat.
One cannot help but be changed by Khaled Hosseini. He truly is one of the greatest writers to have ever lived. The care and attention and dedication he pours into his work is obvious and compels the reader to savor and caress each word, phrase, and story. I cannot get enough of this incredible writer’s skill.