And the Mountains Echoed – A Book Review

By Alankrita Anand (PR Co-ordinator)

 

 

 

 

 

Title- And the Mountains Echoed

Author- Khaled Hosseini

Quick take- An echo of tragedies and triumphs, above all, of human relationships

TSL Rates- 3.8/5

 

From the man who brought us the heart-wrenching stories of Hassan and Mariam from war ravaged Afghanistan, ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ is a tale of human bonds, of bonds ruptured and of bonds sustained and above all, of bonds that live on hope. The story, which extends across space and time, opens with a beautifully narrated bed-time story which sets the course of the events that unfold, events that snatch away three year old Pari from her ever-doting brother Abollah (Abdullah). By the time Pari is re-united with Abdullah, Hosseini has introduced us to a host of other characters and allowed us a generous sneak-peek into their lives.

From the quintessential tragedy queen Nila Wahdati to her quiet husband Suleiman, the Greek doctor Markos and his friend of many years, Thalia, every character has a story to tell. While Thalia’s, with a marred for life face, is a story of courage, Dr. Markos’s is one of compassion of sorts. However, not all characters are winners. There’s the Afghan-American doctor Idris who breaks a promise and a heart, there’s the tragic story of Iqbal, the half-brother of Abdullah and Pari and the heartbreak of their father, Saboor. To an extent, the real hero of the story is Abdullah’s daughter, also called Pari, who sacrifices all to re-unite her father with his sister. The author skilfully weaves important developments like the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the 9/11 attacks into the lives of these many men and women, and we come to see how a part of their lives are indeed shaped by the events.

As mentioned earlier, unlike Hosseini’s other two novels, ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ does not necessarily tug at the heart strings. Unlike Laila from  A Thousand Spelendid Suns, Pari Wahdati grows up in a world of opportunities. Saving a few characters like Iqbal and Masooma, the rest of them do find material comfort. As for comfort otherwise, the author leaves it up to the reader to decide whether the Wahdatis’ cook Nabi finally finds peace in Suleiman’s love or not, whether Dr. Idris’s, after breaking his promise to a young girl in need, has a guilty conscience or not. He also leaves it up to us to decide what brings about the rebellious nature of Nila Wahdati’s poems and to see the truth in Nila Wahdati’s stating that her daughter is her biggest punishment. Did Pari shatter her foster mother? Did Nabi come to love Suleiman? Did Abdullah wait till the very end?

And the Mountains Echoed is a beautiful rendition of the complexities that define our relationships, our behavior; to put it concisely, our lives. Perhaps not as captivating as Hosseini’s earlier works, nonetheless, the story of Pari and Abdullah and the many others does strike a chord somewhere.




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