And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed is Khaled Hosseini’s much-anticipated third novel, following bestsellers The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, which combined sold more than 38 million copies worldwide.

Despite similar themes of love, loss and powerful yet fragile family connections, this is a quieter story than his previous epics. The novel begins in 1952, in the small village of Shadbagh, Afghanistan. Saboor, a labourer, tells his 10-year-old son, Abdullah, and daughter, Pari, a story about a young child being taken from his family in distressing circumstances. In the fable, the father makes a brave pilgrimage to faraway mountains to save his son, only to realise that the child is being raised in paradise. He needs to make the difficult decision of whether to take him home to a life of poverty or leave him there. In the end, he leaves him.

Saboor later hands Pari over to a wealthy poet in Kabul, who is barren and in a loveless marriage, for the money that will keep his remaining family alive in their impoverished village. The poet moves with Pari to Paris, and the girl is never told that she was adopted, let alone that she was paid for.

The novel then radiates from this small, broken family nucleus into the second generation and a series of multigenerational, layered strands. Hosseini moves from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos, encountering wives and mothers, refugees and druglords, doctors and villagers. It explores the many ways in which families love and betray each other and how often we take these formative bonds for granted.

Emily Harms