Tag: Khaled Hosseini

#BestsellerCode100: A Writer’s Thoughts About And The Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is a breathtaking novel. Let’s take some time to examine it from a writer’s perspective. (If you want to read more, our discussion started here.)

This post contains spoilers.

 

And the Mountains Echoed

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: The novel starts in 1952, when an Afghan father sells his little daughter, Pari to a wealthy couple. This devastates her older brother who has raised Pari from the time their mother died. The story reveals the waves of events that radiate out from this traumatic beginning.

And the Mountains Echoed is Khaled Hosseini’s third novel, published in 2013. A medical doctor by training, his previous novels were The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Khaled Hosseini is a masterful, masterful storyteller. In this novel, he explores some fairly complicated writing techniques, including telling the story from multiple characters perspectives, using both first and third person points of view, and mixing in some scenes that are epistolary (a letter, an obituary, and an interview).

Genre

Even though some have labeled it as historical fiction,  And the Mountains Echoed doesn’t read exactly like that genre. It starts in 1952, but only because that is when the initiating events took place. The time the novel is set in never seems as important as the place, which is initially Afghanistan. Also, some sections are written in the present tense, which gives it a modern tone.

Others have called it a drama, or more specifically, a generational drama. Given its serious, realistic tone, that seems like a better fit.

Although it lacks the interior journey of literary fiction, it does contain some of the elements, such as the use of symbols, themes, and moving back and forth in time rather than sticking to chronological order.

 

What do the feathers symbolize?

Characters

At the heart of the story are Pari, the young girl who is sold to another family, and Abdullah, the older brother who mourns her loss. Pari’s father Saboor sells Pari so his new wife Parwana and her children have a better chance of survival. To give the story more depth, next we learn Parwana has made her own tragic choices.  We also discover Parwana’s brother Nabi has his less-than-noble personal reasons for encouraging Pari’s sale to his employers. For the rest of the book we wonder if the two siblings will ever find one another again.

The story deviates from the main characters’ arc in the middle. We learn Dr. Markos Varvaris’s back story in one chapter, and the sad, surprising story of cousins Timur and Idris Bashiri in another. In fact, although the plot does follow Pari, she has no memory of what happened to her, with only a vague feeling of missing something. Because of that, her scenes become rather superficial and years of her life are summarized in a few paragraphs. It is also surprising that for much of the middle we lose track of Abdullah altogether, yet he is the one most effected by the loss of his sister. What happened to him? How did he cope? Somehow his life gets hidden behind a sea of others.

On the plus side, although there are many characters to remember, they are so vividly written that they will stick with you.

Discussion

Adding “little mysteries” can create depth and interest in a novel. What that means is not to state facts or events outright, but hint at them. Leave a question in the reader’s mind and answer it within the next few pages. These aren’t necessarily big plot details, but can be small things for reader’s to discover like colorful gems.

This is a formidable technique in Hosseini’s hands. For example, in the beginning we’re not quite sure why the little family is traveling to Kabul.  The story the father tells in the first scene is revealing, obviously, but the reader isn’t sure until looking back at it. In fact, at first we’re not even sure who is telling the story.

In another example, Nila says as her parting words,

“It was you, Nabi,”…”It was always you. Didn’t you know?”

What does she mean? Did she secretly love Nabi? She never acted on it if she was. Nabi was confused by her words and so was the reader. Later, Hosseini reveals that it is Nila’s husband Suleman who is in love with Nabi. The revelation has stronger impact because the question was in the reader’s mind.

And the Mountains Echoed is a gift for readers and writers alike. It is powerful, imaginative, enlightening and pulls on your emotions. It is definitely one of the best of the bestsellers.

Have you read And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join us on social media:

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What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 76. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013) – Discussion begins October 2, 2017
Crime fiction/Mystery by J.K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Hosseini is the author of bestsellers The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, both set in Hosseini’s homeland, Afghanistan. In And The Mountains Echoed, he returns yet again to Afghanistan and chronicles the lives of interconnected families and friends over the span of several generations and across multiple continents.  And The Mountains Echoed is about sacrifice, honor, betrayal, love, and, above all, about how the choices an individual makes can impact others for generations to come.

This post does contain spoilers.

And The Mountains Echoed* by Khaled Hosseini

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Sacrifice

Khalid Hosseini is a storyteller who weaves fables and myths into his novels. In the first chapter of And The Mountains Echoed, a father tells his ten-year-old son Abdullah and three-year-old daughter Pari the story of a div (a supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics) that forces families to give up one of their children in order to save the lives of all the children in the family. It’s a story of making unthinkable choices and sacrifices all for the sake of love of family, and presages the sacrifice this father makes in the very next chapter when he sells his daughter Pari to a wealthy Afghan family. In doing so, he potentially garners the means to enable the rest of his children to survive the upcoming harsh winter.

This sacrifice of the daughter, and splitting up of the previously inseparable siblings Abdullah and Pari, provides the backdrop for the rest of the novel. Almost every subsequent chapter relates how this event impacted the life of another person from their viewpoint, telling their story. There are a couple of chapters about individuals who are only peripherally connected to Abdullah and Pari (“fairy” in Farsi), and those chapters don’t seem to be quite as compelling as the rest of the book. Their stories are important, though, and lend to the overall themes of sacrifice and choices.

Viewpoints

Even though there are chapters that I didn’t find as compelling as others, I enjoyed reading the different viewpoints that each of these chapters bring to the story. Each viewpoint added a new, previously unseen dimension to the story, whether they were directly connected to Abdullah and Pari or not. We learn from Nabi, the children’s uncle, that he originated the idea of the adoption as a way to become emotionally closer to his employer’s wife, an idea that backfires almost immediately. Nila Wahdati, Pari’s adoptive mother, is one of the stories more complex and tragic characters. She’s a French-Afghan poet trying to maintain her independence as a woman and a writer of passionate poetry in patriarchal Afghan society.

The alternating viewpoints lends a rhythm to the story, a cadence that the computer algorithm from The Bestseller Code has shown us is an important component in predicting a bestseller. Each chapter is a story within the overall story, with a beginning, a peak, and an ending. And each story brings us a little further along in understanding the effects of Abdullah’s and Pari’s separation.

Title Echoes

The Bestseller Code tells us that the choice of a title can be a very important component in creating a bestseller. In several interviews, Hosseini explains the significance of the title And The Mountains Echoed. Here’s an quote from Hosseini from an interview by The Huffington Post:

Just as a mountain would echo back a shout, the fateful acts committed before the mountains too emit an echo. They have a rippling effect, expanding outward, touching lives further and further away. I liked the idea of a decision or an act echoing through both place and time, altering the fates of characters both living and not yet born.

The echoes of the sacrifice of Pari reverberate down through the generations in And The Mountains Echoed. In each chapter, the main character faces his/her own penultimate moment of choice, to make that sacrifice or not. Will they sacrifice themselves and their happiness for the good of the family or will they follow their own dreams and desires and abandon their family duties and obligations?

And The Mountains Echoed is a heartwarming story about the strength of familial love. It is filled with interesting, flawed, sometimes tragic characters who will remain with you long after you finish the last page. It’s a story you won’t regret reading.

 

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 76. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013) – Discussion begins October 2, 2017
Crime fiction/Mystery by J.K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym

#BestsellerCode100: Number 77. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, 77.  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

And the Mountains Echoed

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: The novel starts in 1952, when an Afghan father sells his little daughter, separating her from the brother who has raised her. It follows the waves of events that radiate out from this traumatic beginning.

This is Khaled Hosseini’s third novel, published in 2013. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t published any since? A medical doctor by training, his previous novels were The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

 

Have you read And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 76. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013) – Discussion begins October 2, 2017
Crime fiction/Mystery by J.K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym

#BookBeginnings And The Mountains Echoed

Today we’re starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-hurwitz

 

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  The novel starts in 1952, when two motherless Afghan children are separated from one another. It follows the waves of events that result from this traumatic beginning.

This is Khaled Hosseini’s third novel, published in 2013. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t published any since? A medical doctor by training, his previous novels were The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

First Sentence of And the Mountains Echoed:

So, then.

That’s a pretty short first sentence. It might be a record. Do you know of a shorter first sentence of a novel?

Because those two words don’t tell much, let’s continue with the first paragraph.

You want a story and I will tell you one. But just the one. Don’t either of you ask me for more. It’s late, and we have a long day of travel ahead of us, Pari, you and I. You will need your sleep tonight. And you too, Abdullah. I am counting on you, boy, while your sister and I are away. So is your mother. Now. One story, then. Listen, both of you, listen well. And don’t interrupt.

Discussion:

I like the conversational storytelling tone. It seems natural and realistic.

I also like how we learn the names of the two main characters and their relationship in an organic way. Nothing is forced.

What do you think? Have you read any of Khaled Hosseini’s works?

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