Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: 'And the Mountains Echoed' by Khaled Hosseini


"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment." -- 1 John 4:18 (NKJV)

Regardless of your ultimate view of this book, I think you'll agree that pages 1 through 49 are as well written as anything you've read in a long time. Bravo, Mr. Hosseini! They are a remarkable achievement!!

While anyone would envy an author who accomplished so much to open a novel, there's a problem. Readers expect the rest of the book to maintain that remarkably high standard.

I believe that Mr. Hosseini has the talent to do so. The plot for this book, its scope, and length make it impossible to do so. You couldn't write War and Peace in many fewer words ... or a Tale of Two Cities. And the Mountains Echoed needs to be two or three times longer to flesh out his plan for the book.

Without that length, the book comes across as a series of short stories briefly connected to one or the other of the two siblings in the book's beginning, Abdullah and Pari. Each story is its own morality tale about how we treat other people, including those in our families. Within the whole book there are themes connecting suffering, responsibility, and morality. Some characters adhere to timeless values, at least in parts of their lives, while others talk a good game ... but don't act in accord with their words. The result is a tapestry capturing Afghanistan yesterday and today against a backdrop of humanity over all times.

One of the book's major accomplishments is to present some of the most thought-provoking writing I recall about how appearance affects our lives and our behavior. I would love to see Mr. Hosseini return to this subject in future books. He obviously has a deep understanding that can inform us all.

But please do write a book next time that's as long as your subject deserves, Mr. Hosseini! We'll read it.




Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

No comments:

Post a Comment