If you could guarantee your child a rich life in exchange for forfeiting your right to see her, would you do it? The question informs the engrossing new novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini, whose surprise international bestseller, The Kite Runner, so enchanted readers 10 years ago.
The child in question is Pari, whose long-suffering father arranges her adoption by a well-to-do Afghan and his half-French wife, Nila. Pari’s brother Abdullah stays behind, and their fates diverge in predictable ways: Pari becomes a professor of mathematics while Abdullah ends up selling kabobs.
The novel jumps backward and forward in time, with settings as diverse as Monterey, Paris, Kabul and Athens. The relationships between the far-flung cast members—including Idris, an Afghan-American physician, modeled probably on Hosseini himself; a Greek plastic surgeon and adventure photographer; a former Afghan jihadi and his iPod-toting son—are sometimes obscure. But the female characters steal the show, most notably Nila, who gleefully explodes the stereotype of the downtrodden Afghan woman. An acclaimed poet, as fond of men as she is enslaved to Chardonnay, she evokes a time when Kabul was downright chic.
Then there’s the flip side of the book’s opening dilemma. Having escaped, what obligation does one have to the motherland? Can an expat enjoy success when his or her country so desperately needs help? “For the price of that home theater,” Idris muses, “we could have built a school in Afghanistan.” After a [Sat Aug 23 03:33:26 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. trip back, he experiences worse culture shock upon returning to America, a situation familiar to anyone with experience in both countries. Ultimately Idris decides that Afghanistan was “something best forgotten.” But his story also suggests that life in America, with its stresses and mass distractions, is no Elysium either.
Do Pari and Abdullah reunite? Hosseini certainly isn’t given to facile resolutions. To the distances of space the novel adds the ravages of age. Ultimately, And the Mountains Echoed is about the human endeavor to transcend differences.Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
GAIMAN’S MAGICAL JOURNEY
Versatile and acclaimed author Neil Gaiman targets adult readers in his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a spellbinding short novel set in England. The book’s middle-aged narrator, who remains anonymous throughout the tale, grew up in Sussex with some very odd neighbors—the Hempstocks: a witchy old woman, a little girl and her mother. When the narrator returns to Sussex many decades later, he finds the old woman and mother at home, just as they were years before, unaltered. The girl, who was gone the last time he saw the family, remains absent. Looking back on his childhood, the narrator recalls his magical involvement with the Hempstocks, who are in reality formidable, ageless figures working to protect the world from an evil supernatural power. With typical skill and imaginative genius, Gaiman combines elements of mythology, mystery and fantasy in an irresistible story that his legions of followers will love. Richly atmospheric and wonderfully original, this is a tale from an author whose inventiveness seems to know no bounds.
David Gilbert’s widely acclaimed second novel, & Sons, is a masterfully constructed narrative about a New York novelist coming to terms with the passing of time. Andrew Dyer is adored by the reading public but leads an isolated life. Motivated by the death of an old friend, he’s eager for his three sons to forge a friendship with one another. His teenage son, Andy, whose out-of-wedlock conception proved the undoing of Andrew’s marriage, is half-brother to his older sons, Richard and Jamie. Richard hopes to become a screenwriter and lives in Los Angeles, while Jamie travels around the world documenting catastrophes. Their story has a few madcap elements, including a fake manuscript and a viral video, but at bottom, it’s a profound examination of family ties and the delicacy of human relationships. Gilbert’s depiction of Andrew as a reclusive, gruff author is spot-on, and his portrayal of sibling relations is sure to resonate with readers. A shrewd observer of humanity, Gilbert has crafted an engaging family story that fans of Franzen and Chabon will savor.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Khaled Hosseini’s beautifully crafted third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, opens in 1952 in Afghanistan, where Saboor, a poor man struggling to survive, sells Pari, his 3-year-old daughter, to a wealthy couple. As subsequent sections of this powerful novel reveal, Saboor’s actions directly affect the family members who follow him, including his young son, Abdullah, who is torn apart by the loss of Pari. Hosseini tracks the repercussions of Saboor’s decision across five decades, as the action shifts outside of Afghanistan to France, America and Greece. He weaves many different plot strands into this remarkable narrative, controlling them all with remarkable skill and clear intent. A poignant tale of generational ties and the inescapable bonds of kinship, this is an impressive follow-up to Hosseini’s previous books, The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007).
This article was originally published in the June 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
This book from Kite Runner author Hosseini explores how we love and care for others, especially family. A multigenerational saga that broadens Hosseini's scope.[Page 58]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This bittersweet family saga spans six decades and transports readers from Afghanistan to France, Greece, and the United States. Hosseini (The Kite Runner; A Thousand Splendid Suns) weaves a gorgeous tapestry of disparate characters joined by threads of blood and fate. Siblings Pari and Abdullah are cruelly separated at childhood. A disfigured young woman, Thalia is abandoned by her mother and learns to love herself under the tutelage of a surrogate. Markos, a doctor who travels the world healing strangers, avoids his sick mother back home. A feminist poet, Nila Wahdatire, reinvents herself through an artful magazine interview, and Nabi, who is burdened by a past deed, leaves a letter of explanation. Each character tells his or her version of the same story of selfishness and selflessness, acceptance and forgiveness, but most important, of love in all its complex iterations. VERDICT In this uplifting and deeply satisfying book, Hosseini displays an optimism not so obvious in his previous works. Readers will be clamoring for it. [See Prepub Alert, 11/04/12.]--Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Estero, FL[Page 73]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Hosseini's third novel (after A Thousand Splendid Suns) follows a close-knit but oft-separated Afghan family through love, wars, and losses more painful than death. The story opens in 1952 in the village of Shadbagh, outside of Kabul, as a laborer, Kaboor, relates a haunting parable of triumph and loss to his son, Abdullah. The novel's core, however, is the sale for adoption of the Kaboor's three-year-old daughter, Pari, to the wealthy poet Nila Wahdati and her husband, Suleiman, by Pari's step-uncle Nabi. The split is particularly difficult for Abdullah, who took care of his sister after their mother's death. Once Suleiman has a stroke, Nila leaves him to Nabi's care and takes Pari to live in Paris. Much later, during the U.S. occupation, the dying Nabi makes Markos, a Greek plastic surgeon now renting the Wahdati house, promise to find Pari and give her a letter containing the truth. The beautiful writing, full of universal truths of loss and identity, makes each section a jewel, even if the bigger picture, which eventually expands to include Pari's life in France, sometimes feels disjointed. Still, Hosseini's eye for detail and emotional geography makes this a haunting read. Agent: Elaine Koster, Elaine Koster Agency. (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC