And the Mountains Echoed: Book Review
With a seemingly exhaustive psychological study of multiple characters, a relatively innovative technique of storytelling, at least in theory, and a judicious use of the atrocities during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan(and the subsequent unfortunate events) to make the novel high on empathy and emotional glib, Khaled Hosseini here presents his fans, and the rest of the world, with a well-calculated, crafty little package of tearful pandemonium of human miseries and wretchedness. No matter how much the stories, peeking from behind the veil of the plainly written prose, might be real and reeking with the anguish that is associated with human life, any sense of the dark and desolate being portrayed remains absent mostly due to the tender touch being added by the writer over and over again, as if God might come down in real life and apologize for all the wrongs that fate did to the characters, every other day of their lives. There is no doubt that many people must have had stories similar to the ones described in this book and many of those unfortunate events might even seem too unrealistic and unnatural to happen and yet must have happened to someone somewhere, a hapless childhood event bothering him for the rest of his life, a lie they have lived for a lifetime, the truth only to be discovered by their children after their demise, but as a writer when you choose such conventional themes central to a story, a mere touch of highly unlikely coincidences aren't enough to make your story memorable and epic. The most important thing then would be to rely on a powerful vibe surrounding the events of the story, a sparse film of melancholy desolateness shrouding the pages that describe the banalities of the wretched, almost nameless characters living a hopeless life, the air they breath so rarefied and thin the reader might just suffocate on his own. Throwing more and more words, making up unrealistic coincidences and adding excessive characters just defeats the whole purpose, and is not just a lost opportunity on a great story and theme but is also a blatant disrespect to the actual people who have gone through such difficult times.
Notwithstanding the above issues, there are a couple of things that deserve to be highlighted and that make this book bearable, and even readable. If you have a long journey and want a fast read to engross yourself all the way upto your destination, then by all means, pick this title up and it will keep you engaged the entire time your fellow travelers slog through their tedious trip. The relatively unconventional narrative technique makes this a considerably interesting and addictive read, almost to the point where it could potentially achieve the status of a modern average thriller paperback and keeps you interested right until the end and, even though the execution could have been far more efficacious and powerful, and I am sure some other writer somewhere must have done a better job with a similar technique coming up with a far more dynamic and compelling result, still "And the Mountains Echoed" wears this piece of jewellery gracefully and sells itself well to its bidders with the sole trinket it has to offer. Also the writing is simple, verbose, almost to the point where you feel like someone is writing a satire on slick impassioned prose used in modern best selling paperbacks, but atleast the text is approachable to the average reader, so there you go, that's another reason you could pick this book up.
Looking back, I do not solely regret reading this novel and there were some truly warm and heartfelt moments that I might remember for a long time, moments that capture honest humane emotions in-spite of the fact that they are being represented by poorly developed, forgettable characters emanating from the imagination of a writer constantly feeding his own literary career on the mutilated and vandalized skeleton of a war torn nation and its forlorn inhabitants. But even this self-serving act of the writer translates into an effort to bring awareness to the injustices and horrors caused by the brutish and barbaric Afghan History and thus deserves the attention that he gets within the literary community and among the mass fiction readers.