Monday, July 22, 2013

Majestic Mountains

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I cried when I finished And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini for two reasons:
1) It was that amazing
2) Khaled Hosseini's writing ability makes me cry.  It's that beautiful.  It's that well crafted.  It's that perfect.

I feel like I have learned about writing and about Afghanistan after reading his books.  Hosseini is a master at crafting beautiful story lines that show tragedy and truth.

I loved both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Out of the two of them, I probably liked A Thousand Splendid Suns better mostly because it followed the story of a woman in Afghanistan and was more hopeful than The Kite Runner.  After seeing Hosseini's latest novel And the Mountains Echoed on all the "Best Books" lists, I knew I had to own it and read it.

From the first chapter with the fable about the div that came to a tiny village and stole the youngest and most beloved child of a farmer, I was hooked.  What I loved about this book most, though, was the effortless weaving together of the story lines of each chapter where we get to know the whole life story of each character introduced throughout the book. Each chapter is almost a mini novella about one character's journey of loyalty and love where he or she comes to understand the complex nature of dependency and care taking, compassion and betrayal.  I loved that I could see each character's past, present and future, but never felt that Hosseini gave too much or too little - the amount of character development made me care about each and every heart breaking story (as Idris and Timur say, "Kabul is . . . a thousand tragedies per square mile"). The miracle of this book stems from the fact that Hossenini is able to span generations and whole continents and make the reader believe in each story line and character down to the last story (that made me cry for an hour as it mirrored the first chapter and somehow brought closure to every story in the book).

In Chapter 6, Nila Wahdati, a poet,  talks about writing in an interview.  She tells the interviewer, "I see the creative process as a necessarily thievish undertaking.  Dig beneath a beautiful piece of writing, Monsieur Boustouler, and you will find all manner of dishonor.  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."  She goes on to say, "I find it hard to flaunt something obtained through what I know to be morally questionable means.  I leave the decision to tout or not to others."

If Hosseni's characterization and thoughts from Nila, the tormented poet who feels trapped with a daughter she basically stole, ring true for him as a writer, I choose to tout his writing as beautiful thievery for the art of storytelling and education on the thousand tragedies per square mile in Afghanistan, and I thank him for making me feel so close to each of his characters and their life struggles and journeys.

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