“So then. You want a story and I will tell you one. But just the one. Don’t either of you ask me for more…”
Thus begins Khaled Hosseini’s third and latest novel, and it is particularly fitting that it should begin like this. (Not least because Hosseini is and will probably always be one of the most compelling storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.) Hosseini supplies his reverent readers with a new story in And the Mountains Echoed, a story which collects so many others in its unravelling and reveals his mastery at the task of storytelling.
Hosseini’s latest novel presents a multitude of different life stories, under one title and I’m sure his devoted followers (and here I speak as one of them), were more than satisfied with this novel which had been in the works for quite a long while. The novel’s changing protagonists and, as I have already mentioned, various life-stories, may seem somewhat disorienting at first, but ultimately, they give the novel a sense of realism that, although present in his other novels, seems stronger than ever before. It is indeed true of life, that everyone has their own story to tell, and this novel is a testament to this fact.
The characters within the novel are much more three-dimensional, as a result, than Hosseini’s other characters (even if this seems hard to imagine). Readers will no doubt find themselves being transported through a roller-coaster of emotions typical to real life. They will find themselves weeping for the protagonists, both out of deep sadness for their unfair mishaps and out of pure joy and compassion for their successes. Each one of Hosseini’s characters, although extremely diverse, presents such a vast array of emotions and personality traits that as a reader I couldn’t help but find something to identify with in each and every one of them.
It is in this sense that I always feel like Hosseini emphasizes the essential same-ness of the human experience. No matter how many oceans there are between us, and how many walls we build around us through different cultures and religions, we all bleed and feel the same way. The characters’ experiences are both unique and universal in a sense. This novel in particular points particularly towards this because its protagonists hail from, or at least have been raised in, different countries all over the globe; ranging from Afghanistan to Greece and even France and the United States.