Book Review : And The Mountains Echoed

★ Avoid ★★ No Great Loss ★★★ Worth Reading ★★★★ Close to Masterpiece ★★★★★ Masterpiece

And The Mountains EchoedName: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction Language: English Pages: 402
Published: 2013
My Rating: ★★★
Started: 6th Jan, 2014 Completed: 23rd Jan, 2014
Total Reading Hour: 90-100 Hrs

Excerpt from Book:
So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…

Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

Like, Khaled’s earlier books were talking about fatherhood and motherhood, this book tells story of sibling.

“And The Mountains Echoed” is divided in 9 stories and span in multi-generations. Author used fragmented and fluid form where each of the nine chapters is told from a different character’s perspective, and each narrative provides an interconnection with the others.

First story starts in Shadbagh, fictional village of Afghanistan, where 10 year old Abdullah is living with his sister Pari, his father Saboor, step mother Parwana & younger brother Iqbal. In first story, when I came to know that Saboor traveled from Shadbagh to Kabul to sell his 3 year old daughter Pari to a wealthy-childless couple, I was thrilled to know that how it would go ahead and would end in sibling meet-up. Let me introduce some beautifully crafted characters who will give you tour of sibling love saga:

Abdullah – After his father’s choice to sell his younger sister to a couple in Kabul, he resolves to leave Afghanistan, traveling to Pakistan and eventually the United States. He opens an Afghan restaurant in US and has a daughter, whom he names after his sister. First story is narrated by him.

Pari is Abdullah’s younger sister who, at the age of three, is sold by her father to the wealthy Wahdati couple in Kabul. She and Abdullah are portrayed as having an unusually close relationship during her early years, though she forgets him along with the rest of her biological family following her adoption.

Nabi is the older brother of Parwana and Masooma. Despite being “a character who slips beneath the notice of many of the novel’s noisier characters”, he organizes the event that serves as the primary plot of the story: the adoption of Pari. After being hired as a chauffeur for the Wahdatis, he becomes infatuated with the childless Nila and arranges for Pari to be sold to her in hopes that she will become his lover. After Nila’s husband suffers a stroke and Nila leaves for Paris, he realizes that he had been foolish to think so and becomes the primary caregiver for his bedridden employer.

Nila Wahdati is a young Afghan woman renowned for her sexually charged poetry who is married off to a wealthy Kabul businessman. At some point prior to the beginning of the story, she was apparently sterilized while undergoing treatment for an illness, leading her to buy Pari as an adopted daughter. Described as unusually beautiful and discontent, she later relocates to Paris following her husband’s stroke and eventually commits suicide.

Parwana is the stepmother of Abdullah and Pari. She grew up in Shadbagh with her brother, Nabi, and twin sister, Masooma. Parwana is ill-favored for most of her life as opposed to the strikingly beautiful Masooma.

Idris is an Afghan-American doctor who left Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. He later returns to Afghanistan, along with his narcissistic and childish cousin Timur, in 2003 to reclaim their family’s land. While there, Idris meets Roshi and befriends her, moved by her tragic story.

Markos Varvaris is a plastic surgeon from the Greek island of Tinos. His childhood best friend, Thalia, suffered from severe facial disfigurement after being attacked by a dog and undergoing a botched surgery. This motivated Markos to become a surgeon and work in various developing countries, including Afghanistan.

As someone said, everyone has their own story, author started with one story, added many characters, picked up one character from that list and started new story at some different timeline and different generation. Each story provided base for another story. I loved Nabi and Nila Wahdati’s character most and felt that Nabi played central role in this novel.

Some good lines from book:

  • It’s a funny thing… but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.
  • They say, Find a purpose in your life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind.
  • Some people feel unhappiness the way others love: privately, intensely, and without recourse
  • The truth is that we are waiting against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.
  • Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.
  • The world didn’t see the inside of you, that it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bone. It was as simple, as absurd, and as cruel as that.
  • I should have been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that.
  • A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.
  • When you have lived as long as I have, you find that cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same color.
  • It was the kind of love that, sooner or later, cornered you into a choice: either you tore free or you stayed and withstood its rigor even as it squeezed you into something smaller than yourself.
  • For courage, there must be something at stake. I come here with nothing to lose.
  • You say you felt a presence, but I only sensed an absence. A vague pain without a source. I was like a patient who cannot tell the doctor where it hurts, only that it does.
  • All good things in life are fragile and easily lost
  • One is well served by a degree of both humility and charity when judging the inner workings of another person’s heart
  • If culture is a house, then language was the key to the front door; to all the rooms inside. Without it you ended up wayward, without a proper home or a legitimate identity.
  • Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly.

Author covered many things in detail like transition of one character from one generation to another generation but at some level, he left many threads open-ended and raised a questions in mind like what happened to Saboor after he sold his daughter; what situation forced Iqbal to move in Pakistan; How Abdullah moved to US; One full chapter for Idris and Markos really needed in book? Book is really a page turner but not up-to author’s earlier work.

About Author [Source – Wiki]:

khaledKhaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician.After graduating from college, he worked as a doctor in California, an occupation that he likens to “an arranged marriage” for him. He has published three novels, most notably his 2003 debut The Kite Runner, all of which are at least partially set in Afghanistan and feature an Afghan as the protagonist. Following the success of The Kite Runner, he decided to stop practicing medicine and became a full-time writer. His Official Site :

Extra Shot:

To Communicate through silence is a link between thoughts of Man.
– Marcel Marceau

!!! Enjoy Reading !!!

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8 Responses to Book Review : And The Mountains Echoed

  1. Pingback: Book Review : Burning Sapphires | Ujval's Lounge

  2. Sreejita says:

    I agree Ujval… This book is not so great like earlier of Khaled Hosseni. The story was spread across too many characters and too many generations. I just kept reading to see whether Abdullah and Pari ever met again. Your review is very precise and gives a good insight. Thanks !!

    • Uj says:

      Hey Sree,

      It happened to me also.. I kept reading to see sibling meet-up…
      And Thanks for nice words… Your words are always encouraging…

      Keep Visiting..

  3. You will love it, but the characters and locations got me a bit confused. Which doesn’t take the enjoyment of the story away. As far as I’m concerned, Husseini is a wonderful storyteller. Read all of his books.

    • Uj says:

      Yah Tina,

      Completely agree with you… Indeed, book is interesting but fragmented & fluid form mostly confuses reader..

      Keep Visiting…

  4. Nagini says:

    Very nice review..I’m going to get this book 🙂

    • shahujvaln says:

      Hi Nagini,

      Thanks for visiting. I am glad that you liked the review… Let me know your view once you read the book.

      Keep Visiting….

  5. Pingback: Books, Me and 2014 | Ujval's Lounge

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