Khaled Hosseini is a marvellous storyteller. He wrote “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns“.
This novel covers over sixty years from the late forties to 2010. He’s great with words and produces images that flow like poetry. The story is touching, emotional and speaks of life’s hardships and the difficult choices one must make. Deeper than that, it speaks of how the choices you make now may have a ripple effect- or echo- over time.
Unlike his previous novels that tended to focus on just a couple of characters, this has a larger cast. There maybe too many stories to follow. We begin with 10 year old Abdullah and his beloved 3 year old sister Pari, in Afghanistan in the fifties, they are inseparable until the day their hard working father sells the daughter to a childless rich couple in Kabul. Pari grows up feeling some absence in her life, but not knowing what.
Pari didn’t understand. She read a story once about a middle aged Turkish man who had suddenly slipped into a deep depression when the twin brother he never knew existed had suffered a fatal heart attack while on a canoe expedition in the Amazon rainforest. It was the closest anyone had come to articulating what she felt.
Abdullah was older and never forgot his little sister, even when he moved to America.
This is not just the tale of two siblings separated at an early age but of many related narratives. One is of a Greek plastic surgeon, whose childhood friend had been savagely disfigured by a dog, a fact which leads to him working as a volunteer in Kabul, helping children disfigured in the conflicts that have ebbed and flowed across Afghanistan. A dozen life stories have been compressed into the novel united by the Kabul connection and a substantial yearning.
If the novel doesn’t move you at some level, you are truly heartless.
My rating 5 out of 5