What We’re Reading: And the Mountains Echoed

Title: And the Mountains Echoed20702308

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Genre: fiction

What did you like about it?

Through various characters from 1952 until the current decade, it provides different views of Afghanistan. Some characters are born there and leave; some are not from there, but end up there; and others spend their entire lives there.

The book portrays Afghanistan as a place of poverty in relation to the West, of hardship and suffering; and that is even before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. After decades of constant struggle, internally as well as externally, Afghanis face a difficult prospect of rebuilding. The ravages of war have destroyed physical and political infrastructures and inflicted great suffering, especially on women and children.

The characters all have some relation to one another (whether they know it or not). The prime motive for each character is love: familial as well as doctor/patient and chauffeur/rich employer.

Did it remind you of any other book, or a movie?

I read Hosseini’s The Kite Runner a number of years ago, which is the best-known of his works and was made into a movie.

What feeling did the book leave you with?

Sadness. A recurring theme in the book is suffering.

Hope. The book left a lot of questions unresolved, which makes it feel like a snapshot rather than a story with a beginning, middle and end. Each character is treated with sympathy and is capable of love, even if he is something of a minor warlord.

Who would you recommend the book to?

People interested in cross-cultural literature and those who want to get a more personal view of Afghanistan through recent history.

What would you pair this book with?

Hot tea and a game of chess.

About Stephen Brooks

Stephen is a reference librarian at Durham Tech. He has blogged previously at acqweb.org and for American Libraries magazine online. He enjoys reading 20th and 21st century literature, biographies and books about sports.