HEART­BREAK IN KABU L

Khaled Hos­seini’s new novel is a gen­er­a­tional saga sus­tained by the poignancy of sib­ling bond­ing

India Today - - LEISURE - By S. Prasan­nara­jan

In the art of lost- home- saga, no nov­el­ist to­day out­sells Khaled Hos­seini. His pre­vi­ous two nov­els, The Kite Run­ner and A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns, have sold 38 mil­lion copies, and this 48- year- old Afghan- Amer­i­can has be­come the cho­sen sty­lus of a god­for­saken place, writ­ing its sor­rows and long lost en­chant­ments for a global au­di­ence. He may not be the Ivo An­dric ( author of the great Bos­nian clas­sic The Bridge on the Drina) of war- scarred Afghanistan; he is the Dan Brown, a bit more lit­er­ary cer­tainly, of national sen­ti­men­tal­ism. On his ear­lier pages, we saw the pos­si­bil­i­ties of friend­ship be­tween two unequal boys, as in The Kite Run­ner, and the tra­jec­tory of two women’s con­nected des­tinies, as in A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns, set in the back­drop of a land ran­sacked by his­tory. In the mass mar­ket of emo­tions, the Hos­seini story stands apart: It is big, over­pop­u­lated and op­er­atic.

His third novel, And the Moun­tains Echoed, is big­ger, span­ning gen­er­a­tions and con­ti­nents; and, with the elas­tic­ity of a vin­tage Rus­sian novel, but lack­ing its psy­cho­log­i­cal or moral depth, it con­tains all the fa­mil­iar themes you are likely to find on a good book­shelf: Ex­ile, sep­a­ra­tion, war, a home in mem­ory, love and be­trayal, home­com­ing and re­union, and the re­wards of re­mem­ber­ing. It be­gins with a bed­time fairy­tale fea­tur­ing a child- snatch­ing gi­ant and an un­lucky, hard­work­ing fa­ther who has to make a sac­ri­fice, set in a bar­ren vil­lage with lit­tle hope. The fa­ther won’t re­gain his son, his favourite one, but he will be spared the pain of mem­ory. The son be­comes a void the fa­ther is con­demned to carry within him for the rest of his happy life. Still, the fa­ther “didn’t un­der­stand why a wave of some­thing, some­thing like the tail end of a sad dream, al­ways swept through him when­ever he heard the jin­gling, sur­pris­ing him each time like an un­ex­pected gust of wind. But then it passed, as all things do. It passed”. What Hos­seini tells in the next 400 hun­dred pages is a variation of this fairy­tale.

At the cen­tre of it is a sep­a­ra­tion. In the year

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