I am so in love with Khaled Hosseini. I don’t how he can phrase simple but powerful lines that literally tug at the heart strings. I wish I could write like him. To me, Kate Holden, Gregory David Roberts and Hosseini are great story tellers in the contemporary world.
When I read Hosseini’s first book Kite Runner, I was gripped by the powerful narrative and the story. A Thousand Splendid Suns was equally good and his third one And The Mountains Echoed is as emotionally gripping as his last two books. It is hard to say which one is the best but if I were to think deep, I think the Kite Runner leaves the sort of impression that refuses to go away from memory for whatever the reason. Maybe it was the novelty of the theme, Afghanistan, the ravages of war and the stark representation of life that hit one. By the time we go into the last two novels, we would have developed a sense of familiarity with the Afghan situation. So there is less surprise, but what still makes me hooked to every page is the plethora of human relationships that Hosseini explores. Some sustain, some fall out as with all human relationships and like the doctor that he is by profession, he diagnoses human emotions with richness and detail.
In And The Mountains Echoed, the fundamental story is the separation of two very close knit siblings – Abdullah and Pari – at a young age. Struck by poverty, their father sells off Pari to a wealthy childless couple for whom their uncle Nabi works as a driver, cook and housekeeper. Pari ends up in Paris, Abdullah in the US. They meet at almost the fag end of their lives by which time Abdullah has health problems and cannot be told that Pari is his sister for fear of suffering a stroke or shock. The book spans generations and goes back and forth from Afghanistan to Paris to the US to Greece. Like any blockbuster, the book has all the trappings of melodrama, action and multiple characters with stories of their own.
Clearly Hosseini has dissected most relationships. From father-son relationship in the first book to mother daughter ties in the second book, this one focusses on sibling relationship. For a writer who left Afghanistan at age 15 and lived mostly in the US most of his adult life, his knowledge and understanding of the intricate lives of Afghans is remarkable. More remarkable is his ability to tell the stories in a way that makes us live in the moment with his book.