Khaled Hosseini is a brilliant writer. His vivid descriptions and complex characters spring from the pages, and he is unafraid to write about things that most authors shy away from. His stories often revolve around his homeland, Afghanistan, and the hardship of everyday Afghans. But in the midst of this pain and suffering, Hosseini offers up rare glimpses of beauty and hope in a land ravaged by war, poverty and pain.
I first got acquainted with Hosseini’s work through his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. While I enjoyed the book, the ending was too tragic for my liking – I think we have enough tragedy in the world, without having to be reminded of it in a hobby meant for escapism. Not saying that all books need to have happy endings, but sometimes it just feels like none of his characters ever have a reprieve. I never did finish his titular masterpiece of which he is best known for, ie The Kite Runner. The suffering one of the main character endures was too horrifying, made worse by the fact that I knew it was a reflection of real life. Maybe some day I’ll pick it up again.
I recently finished his third and most recent book, And The Mountains Echoed, which was written after a six year hiatus. Departing from his previous style of having just one or two protagonists, And The Mountains Echoed reads more like a collection of short stories, with characters that are all connected to each other in some way. The main theme, however, is love – love between siblings who are separated at a young age and whose separation touches the lives of many in unique ways,the love between mothers and their children, the love between family, unrequited love, a secret love.
We learn about each of the characters’ hopes, dreams and desires. The fluid style of writing means that a character’s story may be told through another in the future or the past. Hosseini skillfully weaves all of them together to form a vivid, cohesive and touching tale. At the end of it, I was moved.
I think this is as close to a ‘happy’ ending that Hosseini can offer to readers. The story is still pretty sad, but some of its characters still manage to find joy in different ways – not necessarily how a reader might hope them to find – but joy nonetheless.
And I think that’s how life is.