This has probably been my most anticipated new release for a very long time. Like many people, I was totally awestruck by Hosseini's first novel The Kite Runner. His second; A Thousand Splendid Suns is up there in my Top Five Books, I was astounded by the story. Bearing this in mind, and despite my delight at acquiring a pre-publication copy of And The Mountains Echoed, I was a little nervous that I may be a little disappointed.
Khaled Hosseini's fans do have to wait a long time between books, its been five years since A Thousand Splendid Suns. I can truthfully say that this is certainly worth that very very long wait.
This is a story that spans generations, yet starts and finishes with the same characters. In 1952 a father and his two young children are travelling across Afghanistan, father has been promised some much needed work. The children; Abdullah and his little sister Pari are happy to be together, they adore each other and Abdullah has become more of a parent than a brother to Pari. When their mother died just after giving birth to Pari and then their father re-married and new half-siblings joined the family, Abdullah took on the protection and care of Pari. Neither of them can know that this journey will be the beginning of heartbreak that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
With heart-breaking realism, Hosseini tells the tale of a family split apart by poverty and desperation. From the small rural villages to the large bustling cities of Afghanistan, the writing transports the reader into the heart of the story, experiencing the sounds, the smells and the changing political landscapes. From immense poverty, to the greatest riches. From the modest and humble, to the arrogant and the proud, the cast of characters are a triumph.
That one event in Kabul in 1952 leads on to many others, including characters and settings from Paris, to the Greek Islands and back to Afghanistan. Characters who appear, on the face of it, to be so different and so diverse are all connected in one way or another to the day that a loving father told his two small children the story of farmer Baba Ayub - it is this story, and its meaning that is threaded through the whole novel and which eventually turns from a fable to the truth.
Whilst And The Mountains Echoed does not have the shock-factor of Hosseini's two previous novels, it is still a very important epic story that will leave a mark on anyone who reads it. The cast of characters is huge and the narrative often slips back and forward, which can at times, appear a little disjointed. However, this really does not detract from the story, or from the wonderfully evocative writing.
Once again, Khaled Hosseini has produced a story that will break hearts and leave his fans, new and old, gasping for more.
My very grateful thanks go to Bloomsbury who sent a pre-publication copy for review. And The Mountains Echoed will be published here in the UK on 21 May 2013
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. His novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns were international bestsellers, and have sold over thirty-eight million copies. The graphic novel of The Kite Runner was published in 2011. In 2006 he was named a U.S. Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. He lives in Northern California.
To find out more about Khaled Hosseini, visit the website here. The Official Khaled Hosseini Facebook page is here