:)

:)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed


Title:          And the Mountains Echoed
Author:       Khaled Hosseini
Publisher:    Bloomsbury India
ISBN:          978-9-3829-5100-1
MRP:           Rs 599
Pages:         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.

In a nutshell, this is the story of two poor siblings, Abdullah and Pari from a small Village in Afghanistan, who get separated in their childhood. Pari is adopted by Nila Wahdati, a rich but depressed half Afghan-half French poet. Her driver Nabi (Pari’s step uncle), plans and arranges all this because of his silent crush on her, for he cannot tolerate the sadness of a childless Nila. She later leaves both, her paralyzed husband and Nabi, to settle in Paris with Pari. Then after many decades, the siblings do meet but by then Abdullah suffers from senile dementia and Pari from rheumatism. The main theme of the book, the union of siblings, has been described in the last part that too in an insipid way.  

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???  


                                                                    
                                                                                                    


79 comments:

  1. Hi Shalini

    Thanks a lot!!

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  2. I haven't read any of Khaled's books but did hear one of my friends commenting about this one. He also had similar views as you have. Good that I know now what not to buy.

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  3. Hi Nihar

    thanks! ya now you don't have to buy this confusing read :)

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  4. AnonymousJuly 16, 2013

    Hello there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    My web site :: visit

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  5. hii Anon

    Thanks a lot!!

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  6. hi AS,
    a very helpful review..
    hope Hosseini Sahab somehow get to read ths...

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  7. Hi Pinks

    thanks a lot!! I he ever gets to, I don't think he'll enjoy it :P

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  8. Thanks for the review and thanks for the warning.

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  9. Hi SG

    Thanks a lot! hehehe!

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  10. Too bad! I really enjoyed his earlier books, so it's sad that he has not been able to keep the tempo!

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  11. Hi Roshini

    Ya his earlier books were too gud, esp his second one nut this one , falls flat on its face :P

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  12. 4/10... that's too bad! i had high expectations from this one... considering that I simply loved his other 2 books! :|

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  13. Hi Shilpa

    yup, I too was expecting a good read from him ..sigh.. :P

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  14. I am looking for new books ro read and this one sounds highly intriguing!

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  15. Hi OE

    I did not like it at all..it is just so jumbled up

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  16. My first time visiting your blog, and here I found a lot of interesting content .. thanks for sharing ...

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  17. I still didn't get time to buy it ... but have to get it soon :-)

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  18. Hi Gisela

    welcome here! thanks a lot!

    keep coming :)

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  19. Hi Amrit

    ok then, all the best :P

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  20. hi as

    nice review... i think whole covered...

    thanks

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  21. Hi Krishna

    thanks a lot!

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  22. Hi Krishna

    thanks a lot!

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  23. I loved the way you bring factors while reviewing this book. Nice review I must say.

    Often post selling few best sellers, some writers go through this phase where their new book doesnt create as many ripple as previous ones and often fall short on expectations!

    good review though!
    www.numerounity.com

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  24. Hi Ekta

    Thanks a lot! I am happy that u liked the review. Ya that is true, it seems to be a pattern.

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  25. Sounds confusion! Glad I read your review... I was thinking about to give a try on this book quite dragged by the title.

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  26. Hi Jeevan

    thanks!

    :D

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  27. Your review is very simple yet graphic. I was enamoured by Khalid's Kite Runner. What a book!! But greatly disappointed with Thousand Suns and now this one, I don't think is worth wasting time. Thanks for sharing. I'll bypass this one. Geetashree

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  28. robinhoodJuly 20, 2013

    excellent review., You are a GENIUS BLESSED with awesome skills.

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  29. Hi Geetashree

    Thanks a lot! ya loved this second book more than the first. ya, this one can be avoided without regrets :P

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  30. Hi Robinhood

    Thanks a ton!!!

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  31. Need to read the book...thanks for the review though

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  32. Hi Ashok

    Thanks a lot!

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  33. Hi Lakshmi

    ok thanks

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  34. Nice review!:)
    I haven't read this author and your rating says I shouldn't buy this one. I've heard that The Kite Runner is really nice!..:)

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  35. Hi Tarang

    Thanks a lot! Ya 'The Kite Runner' is good but I found his second book, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'even better

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  36. Oh! Most people have positive things to say about this book. Glad you are honest here.

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  37. Hi Sar

    thanks! ya, that's a very frank and honest review :)

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  38. It's a well written review! Thanks for nice feedback :) Would like to read A Thousand Splendid Sun :)

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  39. Hi Nasnin

    Thanks a lot for liking the review! I am sure u'll enjoy that book a lot :)

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  40. Hi uma

    Thank youu!!

    :)

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  41. I sooo want to read this one... I hope I get to read it soon :)

    Sply after reading such a lovely review about it.

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  42. Hi Me

    haha! if u r serious then all the best :P

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  43. Thanks so much for visiting my blog!
    I have always wanted to travel to India, I hope I will be able too someday.
    I love reading a lot so I am always glad when I can read some reviews of good books!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi Katrin

    Pleasure is all mine! Please do visit our country, u r most welcome :)

    Thanks a lot!

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  45. Nice review! :)I appreciate the extra effort you've taken to finish the book. Often an uninteresting book is left in the middle, rarely do people take the time, patience and persistence to read it till the last page :)

    I hope the same for his next novel! Cheers!! :)

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  46. Hi.. I read the book and other reviews too..your's was a honest one. The characters are really confusing and time frame jumbled up. By the time a character is being explored , they are just left to hang over there. Oftentimes I had to turn back the pages. The opening chapter was very nice, but the rest didn't keep up to the expectations

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  47. Hi Sai Charan

    Thanks!! hehee, ya this book nearly took a toll on my patience :P

    cheers!! :)

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  48. Hi Adithyasaravana

    Thank you! ya u r right, there are so many characters and they have not been defined well. Only the first chapter set in Shadbagh was nice, I agree

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  49. I loved his The KIte Runner and this is one book that made me cry.I am waiting to read this book as well, some times in the creative process, expectations are not met , I liked your honest review.
    I will return here and keep in touch, you have a very interesting space!

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  50. Hi Padmaja

    Thanks a lot for liking the review. yes this happens many times. Keep coming!!

    :)

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  51. I loved "The Kite Runner" And since then have been a fan of Mr Hussain's poetic style of narrating stories. Would definitely like to read this.

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  52. Nice review..I liked the earlier two books by Khaled and was thinking of buying the book but now i think i will not..thanks for the post and a nice blog..

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  53. Hi Ajeya

    I loved his first two books too but this one sigh... :P

    All the best!

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  54. Hi Ranita

    Thanks a lot! I am happy u found the review helpful and nice :)

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  55. Hi AS
    I loved this book though " The Kite Runner" remains my favorite. Like all his other books this is also a lost and found story. I also found the section of the Greek doc and Thalia rather irrelevant. But if you think this was bad you should read Mridula Koshy " And not only the things that have happened" -the most awful book I have ever come across ( after Arundhati Roy's God of small things ofcourse -that takes the cake and the bakery). Well here is the link to my review of Hosseini's book http://meerareflections.blogspot.in/2013/06/lost-and-found-separations-and-reunions.html

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  56. Hi Meera

    thanks for reading the review :)

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  57. Awww AS....You just broke my heart into thousands of tiny pieces. I was just saving to buy this book. Now I will buy another one. Phew...still I think I will read this one if I can beg or borrow from one of my reader friends. BTW, I am huge fan of Kite Runner. :)

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  58. Hi Pankti

    heheh!

    ya, I was also very excited before buying it but now... sigh...... :P

    I am a Kite Runner fan too!!

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  59. Your review provides balance to the other reviews I have seen which have been very positive. Cheers

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  60. Hi Carole

    Ya,This is a very frank and honest review. Thanks!

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  61. I read this book and found the topic too irrational. But as far as the plot is concerned the book mainly focuses on emotions. Timeline keeps us pinching again and again but if you read such books depicting different timelines in every other chapter, you'll get used to it. Take chanakya's chant for example. Well, I but agree with you that this book cannot be called a khalid's masterpiece by any parameter. The author filled his cauldron with too many emotions and a little space for actual plot to develop between the characters.

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  62. Hi I HEARD YOU

    Ya, I agree, the author jumbled up things this time and left no space for the characters to develop.


    :)

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  63. Hi Kalyan

    Thanks a lot!

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  64. A honest in depth review. I haven't read the book but I admire Khalids writing a lot.I had to use a box of tissues while reading his previous books.

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  65. Hi Alka

    thanks!! ya, I loved his previous books and the second one made me emotional :)

    but this one .. :P

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  66. I was so looking forward to reading his latest book.....but after I read your review, I am having second thoughts. But perhaps this could also be because one has set expectations from an author who churns out literary brilliance. Thanks for the review.

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  67. Hi Swapna

    Thanks a lot! I am happy that u found this review helpful :)

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  68. Have you read The Kiterunner? A thousand splendid suns?
    If not, I request you to go back and get those books amd read them so you can be a veritable Khaled Hosseini fan before you reach this book.
    Because then you will realize how he has soared to new heights. How he has used the best part of Kiterunner and ATSS and woven them into a new emotional tapestry that is his latest offering.
    This book is primarily about emotions and the flawed humans who house them. It is about the much talked about grey area of life. How something ..or someone can be good and bad when looked through the lens of perspective and time.
    It will nudge your heart and maybe make you weep a little. But I can promise it will make you think. And feel.
    Heartily recommended.

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  69. Hi Rahul

    Thanks for the comment. It seems you have missed the opening lines of the post. Please read the first 3-4 lines again and then post a comment. I have read his previous books and it is not at all necessary that every title should be a masterpiece and also for reviewing someone's work, you do not have to be his die hard fan. I have written what I feel about the book. If you don't agree you may have your own views.

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  70. Seriously I was planning to buy his latest edition of book but really after reading this review I have to think but I read couple of books from this author that was good anyways thanks for your review.

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  71. Hi Prachi

    Ya, this book is not that good.

    :)

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  72. Doesn't beat A Thousand Splendid Suns or Kiterunner but its still a good read. Too many characters with unbelievable unrealistic links, may get confusing at times. But a beautifully told story nevertheless.

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