THOUGHTS ON "AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED" BY KHALED HOSSEINI

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  1. When AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED was first published, I deliberately did not read it.
    For one, the blurb did not (still does not) sound interesting at ALL.
  2. I'm not the kind of person who devours every single book of a much loved author.
    I'm happy to leave well-enough alone. I often find that when I read too much by an author, I become used to their formulae and their modus operandi, and I get bored.
  3. So although I really enjoyed A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS and THE KITE RUNNER, I was quite happy to leave it at that.
  4. Every month, my dad and I choose an audiobook together.
    He's a big fan of Hosseini's, and unlike me, does not have issues about reading everything by an author.
  5. And recently, the only audiobook I could find on Audible that seemed vaguely appealing, was this one.
  6. My greatest concern was that it would be another suffering narrative. I'm just so tired of countries like Afghanistan constantly being depicted in this very sad and troubling way. It all becomes so predictable: rape and child marriage and death and illness and abuse... And it begins to paint the picture that that is ALL there is to the country.
    I know that there is beauty and love in Afghanistan, but these are rarely written in books.
  7. But this was not a suffering narrative. It was not about events. It was not plot-based.
  8. Afghanistan's sociopolitical history was simply the backdrop of the book. Not the entire attraction.
  9. Hosseini is a medical doctor, and I thought that THIS book really reveals his understanding of human nature.
  10. "I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us."
    How poignant is that?
  11. But he also doesn't step into the trap of so many "doctor-authors" of dwelling on disease and pathology.
  12. This book is about human interaction.
  13. "Nothing good came free. Even love. You paid for all things. And if you were poor, suffering was your currency."
  14. It is about relationships. And in this, Hosseini shines. The relationships between parents and their children, brothers and sisters, lovers, employers and their servants - are finely nuanced. They are what eventually drew me in.
  15. "When you have lived as long as I have, the div replied, you find that cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same colour."
  16. It is about how lives intersect.
  17. "They say, Find a purpose in your life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind."
  18. It's really not one story. It is a series of vignettes centred around one decision, and the ripples it causes for decades onwards.
  19. And in part this is also its biggest weakness. Every chapter has another voice. There is little chronicity to the novel. It becomes slightly disconcerting to have to reconnect with a new protagonist every new chapter.
  20. In terms of the audio... I was not a big fan of the voice artists. The female narrator was not bad, but I felt that the men narrated as though every scene was an action scene. Their performances took away from the story a little. But they weren't horrible.
  21. This novel did not make me angry and tearful like A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS.
  22. It did not send me into a dark spiral like THE KITE RUNNER.
  23. But it did give me one beautiful piece of work. It felt like art. It was a piece of art that I could enjoy, and analyse, and experience. And I would read it again. And probably enjoy it even more.
  24. "It's a funny thing... but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they're afraid of. What they don't want."
  25. "I now know that some people feel unhappiness the way others love: privately, intensely, and without recourse."
    This was beautiful, and made ME feel understood.
  26. "Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly."
    I identify with this.
  27. "The rope that pulls you from the flood can become a noose around your neck."
  28. Unexpectedly, this has become my favourite novel by Khaled Hosseini.
    His other books pale in comparison.
  29. ❤️💜