Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
MRP: Rs 599Pages: 402
Finally, I finished reading this book! Ever since I got to know that Khaled Hosseini’s third book is on stands, I was way too excited. His earlier novel, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is one of my favorite books and I was expecting magic this time as well. However, I was left disappointed, rather irritated. Let me get to the point quickly. The book is about many people and their personal lives described in fine details.
No single character can be called a protagonist. It is more like a complex potpourri of their lives and emotions, somewhat like diary entries. Author’s experiment with the time lines only leads to a greater confusion. The story keeps jumping from 1950s to early and late 2000s and every chapter is set in a different year, in a different country. He describes the lives of people living in various continents and countries, joined only by a hair thin relation and sometimes none at all. Various tracks like that of Thalia, Amara, Bashir cousins, Baba Jan, Masooma, etc seem to be superfluous. The author goes on to describe minute details like the colour and specifications of a music system, decor of eateries and so on. Abdullah’s character remains unexplored till the end while that of Pari has been given more than tolerable importance. The portrayal of Thalia’s childhood, her stepfather, her delinquent mother, to Baba Jan, his son Adel etc just adds more pages to the novel. They have nothing much to do with the main plot, (if you find one). Had these not been there, the novel would have been simpler and thinner by at least 100 pages. Many times I felt like leaving the book midway as some parts can really test your patience!
The descriptions of real Afghan life are missing (which is another shortcoming) for most of the time the author keeps shifting time lines and describes the urban lives of developed countries like America, Greece and France. This time, Hosseini has strayed from his typical old school storytelling into a new style that seems to spill only chaos. Also, the narrative is in third person but all of a sudden, last two chapters begin in the first person narrative leaving the readers perplexed.
This plot could have been developed really well. It is an example of a great idea poorly executed. I hope in his next novel, Hosseini sticks to what he does best- weaving stories having an old world charm reflecting the real life and culture of Afghanistan. I would give this book 4/10.
PS: I like the cover page but wonder how the name (And the Mountains Echoed) is related to the plot???
Author's Image From: http://www.schibstedforlag.no/no/Kategorier/Authors/Khaled-Hosseini/