And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Riverhead Books 2013
Source: Library copy
Every story holds another story, and so it is with this novel. Khaled Hosseini fits together his stories into a beautiful, wise tale of families. He shows us how family members have the power to love and to wound.
He creates an intricate plot with his stories, one story out of many. It is a story to help us understand the breadth and depth of feelings and experiences among people whose lives are disrupted in their home country so they escape that home to live in another place. That new place becomes a home. They strive and endure, building the best life possible in the new place out of past memories and the materials at hand.
One of the interesting things for readers and writers about this book is how Hosseini fits his stories together. He was interviewed in the July/August issue of Writers’ Digest and he spoke about his many stories and how they came to be. As a boy he spent his first 15 years in Afghanistan. Later, he wanted to write fiction, and he was determined to tell stories of people from that country.
When he heard stories of people in his home country selling one child to make a better life for other children, he said, “It struck me as unbelievably sad.” That story set others in motion when he writes of the separation of a young brother and sister who depended greatly on each other. As his stories move and change he gives each character a moment to shine. He referred to his characters like “listening to a choir.” As I read, I felt I could hear the different voices, and yet each helped me to understand another. “I’d follow that character and see where it went and see how their story overlapped or coincided with some of the other characters’ stories, and find connection.” So he described his process.
His novel takes us from an Afghan village to the city of Kabul, then to Greece, France and the United States. He gives us so many places and people to learn about. The book is fascinating. The interview is fascinating. Visit www.writersdigest.com/aug-13 for more about him and his writing process.
For this reader, it was a story with many layers of meaning and as powerful as it was at its beginning, so was the ending. I highly recommend it. He digs deep for meaning, and yet his respect for all his characters is always evident.