So far, I have read three books by Khaled Hosseini, the three books he has written so far. I liked "The Kite Runner", I loved "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and I thought that this one was one of the best books I have read in a long time (and I read a lot). One proof how much I was looking forward to this is that I even read it before it was out in paperback. I prefer those editions, they are easier to hold and to carry around.
Khaled Hosseini is a wonderful author. Such beautiful penmanship, such a gift for telling a story of his war-torn home country. He is an author where you don't think another great book like this will come along anytime soon. His book leaves you with a feeling that it can't be over yet, why are there only 400 pages?
"So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one..." This is how the story begins. Abdullah's and Pari's father Saboor loves telling stories and the children love listening to him. What they don't know, his stories are often parables that shine into their own lives, good or bad. The novel tells us about town and village life in Afghanistan but also about the lives of Afghan expatriates in France and the United States of America as well as that of foreigners living in Afghanistan. He mentions them all. We meet rich people and poor people, good and bad ones. We learn about siblings, sibling rivalry and sibling love. About friendship, marriage, sickness and health, this is a novel about everything. The story spans over several generations and more than half a century, starting in the 40s in Afghanistan and ending at the beginning of this century in California. I don't want to give away too much and I would have to do that if I delved deeper into the story. I just want to add that this books raises so many questions about the why and how we live, what kind of decisions people make and what the implications are on the lives of so many. I would say it is quite philosophical in that respect but also tells a gripping story you don't want to put away until you're finished.
What I specifically loved about this book, it starts immediately, no long introduction to get used to the characters, no description of any kind what was before (that comes later), I love how he starts with a splash. You don't have to read about fifty pages to know whether you will like this book. You will like it from the beginning.
If you only read one new book this year, "And the Mountains Echoed" should be it!
The only disappointment, now that I read his newest book so fast, it will take even longer to wait for the next one.
From the back cover: "So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their skulls touching, their limbs tangled.
One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.
Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways that we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history, and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us."