"And the Mountains Echoed," by Khaled Hosseini, is a story of betrayal, loss, love, sacrifice, and reconciliation. Hosseini’s frontispiece is a quote from Jelaluddin Rumi from the 13th century, which well describes the complexity of the story, the decisions his characters face, and the circumstances in which they find themselves:
Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
It is this meeting place that readers arrive at intervals in the novel, weighing the wrong and right, seeing the consequences play out in the lives of the characters, considering what would have happened “if,” mostly unable to condemn or praise anyone without reservation for their choices. Their motivations were strong: love, family pride, greed, honor, commitment. As his character Nabi says, “ . . . I have come to see . .. that one is well served by a degree of both humility and charity when judging the inner workings of another person’s heart.”
The story begins in the country in Afghanistan, as the young girl Pari is taken to her Uncle Nabi, who works for a wealthy family in Kabul. Pari is too young to have many memories yet, and is given to Nabi to be raised by another couple as their own. Pari’s brother, Abdullah, feels the loss keenly his entire life. Intertwined with the stories of Pari, Abdullah, and Nabi, Hosseini introduces a plastic surgeon who came to Kabul in an effort to help the injured. Using this doctor as a foil for Abdullah, Hosseini makes a sharp distinction between those who are in need of help and those who can.
At every turn in the story, Hosseini does a masterful job making his characters’ bitter choices real to the reader. Their excuses are ours. Their reasons are ours. And their emotions strike a familiar chord.
"And the Mountains Echoed" was published by Penguin Books in 2013.