And the Mountains Echoed [NOOK Book]

Overview

An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.



Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and ...
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And the Mountains Echoed

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Overview

An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.



Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.


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  • And the Mountains Echoed
    And the Mountains Echoed  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

After his triumphant novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini gifts us with a poignant story of love, loss, and recovery across several families and over several generations. Like an intricately woven tapestry, And the Mountains Echoed pulls us into the lives of disparate children, men, and women in Afghanistan, France, Greece, and California, showing us how the choices they and other make resonate over decades. A masterpiece; superlative early reviews.

Library Journal
This bittersweet family saga spans six decades and transports readers from Afghanistan to France, Greece, and the United States. Hosseini (The Kite Runner; A Thousand Splendid Suns) weaves a gorgeous tapestry of disparate characters joined by threads of blood and fate. Siblings Pari and Abdullah are cruelly separated at childhood. A disfigured young woman, Thalia is abandoned by her mother and learns to love herself under the tutelage of a surrogate. Markos, a doctor who travels the world healing strangers, avoids his sick mother back home. A feminist poet, Nila Wahdatire, reinvents herself through an artful magazine interview, and Nabi, who is burdened by a past deed, leaves a letter of explanation. Each character tells his or her version of the same story of selfishness and selflessness, acceptance and forgiveness, but most important, of love in all its complex iterations. VERDICT In this uplifting and deeply satisfying book, Hosseini displays an optimism not so obvious in his previous works. Readers will be clamoring for it. [See Prepub Alert, 11/04/12.]—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Estero, FL
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
…his most assured and emotionally gripping story yet, more fluent and ambitious than The Kite Runner, more narratively complex than A Thousand Splendid Suns…Mr. Hosseini's narrative gifts have deepened over the years, enabling him to anchor firmly the more maudlin aspects of his tale in genuine emotion and fine-grained details. And so we finish this novel with an intimate understanding of who his characters are and how they've defined themselves over the years through the choices they have made between duty and freedom, familial responsibilities and independence, loyalty to home and exile abroad.
The Washington Post - Marcela Valdes
Nuance is rare on the bestseller list. In most cases, ambiguity is stripped away to appeal to the greatest number and lowest common denominator. So it always renews my faith when a popular novelist shows a decided preference for moral complexity. It suggests that readers crave more than simplistic escape. Or perhaps it just means that some writers, like Khaled Hosseini, know how to whisk rough moral fiber into something exquisite…Over and over again, he takes complicated characters and roasts them slowly, forcing us to revise our judgments about them and to recognize the good in the bad and vice versa.
Publishers Weekly
Hosseini’s third novel (after A Thousand Splendid Suns) follows a close-knit but oft-separated Afghan family through love, wars, and losses more painful than death. The story opens in 1952 in the village of Shadbagh, outside of Kabul, as a laborer, Kaboor, relates a haunting parable of triumph and loss to his son, Abdullah. The novel’s core, however, is the sale for adoption of the Kaboor’s three-year-old daughter, Pari, to the wealthy poet Nila Wahdati and her husband, Suleiman, by Pari’s step-uncle Nabi. The split is particularly difficult for Abdullah, who took care of his sister after their mother’s death. Once Suleiman has a stroke, Nila leaves him to Nabi’s care and takes Pari to live in Paris. Much later, during the U.S. occupation, the dying Nabi makes Markos, a Greek plastic surgeon now renting the Wahdati house, promise to find Pari and give her a letter containing the truth. The beautiful writing, full of universal truths of loss and identity, makes each section a jewel, even if the bigger picture, which eventually expands to include Pari’s life in France, sometimes feels disjointed. Still, Hosseini’s eye for detail and emotional geography makes this a haunting read. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (May)
Daily Beast
Wrought with mastery, And the Mountains Echoed is not just a well spun tale, but an accomplishment of the most elusive of literary challenges—the humanization of a war ravaged population in the eyes of the very people complicit in their ruin.
San Francisco Chronicle
There is an assured, charismatic new maturity to Hosseini's voice. When he hits his stride, the results are electrifying.
Boston Globe
Hosseini delves into the joys, sorrows, and betrayals that alternately bind and fracture families. Once again, Hosseini's lovingly rendered Afghanistan takes center stage, but in this book he extends his examination to encompass how the Afghan identity affects his characters' decisions and lives in unfamiliar environments.
Los Angles Times
[Hosseini's] beautifully written, masterfully crafted new book, And the Mountains Echoed, spans nearly 60 years of Afghan history as it investigates the consequences of a desperate act that scars two young lives and resonates through many others. . . . And the Mountains Echoed is painfully sad but also radiant with love.
The Miami Herald
Compulsively readable, in large part because [Hosseini] probes his characters' psyches in a nuanced and poetic manner . . . And the Mountains Echoed attains a greater level of complexity than its two predecessors . . . and signals the ongoing maturation of a gifted storyteller.
Austin Chronicle
Readers' tears may fall by first chapter's end. Introspective and perfectly paced, Hosseini's microcosmic plot spares no expense with sensory details...Hosseini skillfully weaves the tapestry with universal elements: human fallibility, innate goodness, perseverance, forgiveness, sexuality, jealousy, companionship, and joy.... And the Mountains Echoed resonates to the core.
Kirkus Reviews
After two stellar novels set (mostly) in Kabul, Afghanistan, Hosseini's third tacks among Afghanistan, California, France and Greece to explore the effect of the Afghan diaspora on identity. It begins powerfully in 1952. Saboor is a dirt-poor day laborer in a village two days walk from Kabul. His first wife died giving birth to their daughter Pari, who's now 4 and has been raised lovingly by her brother, 10-year-old Abdullah; two peas in a pod, but "leftovers" in the eyes of Parwana, Saboor's second wife. Saboor's brother-in-law Nabi is a cook/chauffeur for a wealthy, childless couple in Kabul; he helps arrange the sale of Pari to the couple, breaking Abdullah's heart. The drama does nothing to prepare us for the coming leaps in time and place. Nabi's own story comes next in a posthumous tell-all letter (creaky device) to Markos, the Greek plastic surgeon who occupies the Kabul house from 2002 onwards. Nabi confesses his guilt in facilitating the sale of Pari and describes the adoptive couple: his boss Suleiman, a gay man secretly in love with him, and his wife, Nila, a half-French poet who high-tails it to France with Pari after Suleiman has a stroke. There follow the stories of mother and daughter in Paris, Markos' childhood in Greece (an irrelevance), the return to Kabul of expat cousins from California and the Afghan warlord who stole the old village. Missing is the viselike tension of the earlier novels. It's true that betrayal is a constant theme, as it was in The Kite Runner, but it doesn't work as a glue. And identity? Hosseini struggles to convince us that Pari becomes a well-integrated Frenchwoman. The stories spill from Hosseini's bountiful imagination, but they compete against each other, denying the novel a catalyst; the result is a bloated, unwieldy work.
The Barnes & Noble Review

Each of Khaled Hosseini's three novels — The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and now And the Mountains Echoed — begins with a betrayal and then gradually finds its way toward an unexpected redemption. Each includes within its cast of characters at least one orphaned or abandoned child. In all three books, the author exhibits an unabashed didacticism, using plainspoken family dramas to convey the complex recent history and culture of Afghanistan to multitudes of readers in America and around the world. (To date, more than 10 million copies of Hosseini's books have been sold in the U.S. alone.) Yet in each of the books the author's allegiance is above all to the story, from which he has stripped away most stylistic enhancements, reducing his tale to its emotional essence. To Hosseini's detractors, his narrative purity comes off as trite earnestness. To his legions of fans it's a virtue, a hallmark of credibility and consistency.

For all these similarities among Hosseini's novels, it's their differences that are more interesting and instructive. By paying attention to those differences, which are chiefly structural, one can follow the evolution of Hosseini's refinement as a storyteller. The Kite Runner traced a more or less straightforward line from the narrator's childhood in 1960s–'70s Kabul to his adult life in Northern California around the turn of the millennium. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, instead of telling a single story from a single point of view, Hosseini abruptly switched characters partway through the novel and started again, ultimately weaving both halves of the narrative together. It was a risk, but it worked: the fracturing of the story mirrored the fracturing of Afghanistan's social structure during three decades of violent instability, from the Soviet invasion beginning in December 1979 through a prolonged civil war, the rise of the Taliban, and American military involvement after September 11, 2001.

Hosseini's third book is even more structurally sophisticated. "You want a story and I will tell you one," it begins, but in fact And the Mountains Echoed contains many stories, starting over not just once but many times, as it ranges capriciously through varying points of view and time periods and far-flung locations.

Once again Hosseini begins, classically, with a simple family tale. In 1952, in a remote Afghan village called Shadbagh, a penniless day laborer is compelled to sell his three-year-old daughter to a wealthy childless couple in Kabul in order to sustain his wife and remaining children. The little daughter, named Pari, has a deep mutual bond with her ten-year-old brother, Abdullah, who until now has been her main caregiver. The grief and guilt that this forced separation inflicts on all the family members will flare up periodically throughout their lives. It will spread over continents, too, since Pari will eventually spend most of her life in France, and Abdullah will emigrate to America as an adult, in 1982.

Hosseini's intention is to show how stubbornly a homeland manages to cling to a person, in strange and diluted ways, even after years of dispersion and assimilation. Thus we note that Pari, who has lived in Paris since her adoptive mother moved her there from Kabul when she was six, has twinges of recovered memory of Shadbagh and her unmentioned birth family, "like a message sent across shadowy byways and vast distances, a weak signal on a radio dial, remote, warbled." And we see Abdullah, transplanted to the San Francisco Bay Area, educating his American daughter with lessons in Farsi and the Koran and slaving away in his restaurant, Abe's Kabob House, with its tourist-friendly menu of "Caravan Kabob, Khyber Pass Pilaf, Silk Route Chicken," and - - notes his sharp-eyed daughter — "the badly framed poster of the Afghan girl from National Geographic, the one with the eyes — like they had passed an ordinance that every single Afghan restaurant had to have her eyes staring back from the wall."

It's not only these central characters who feel the presence of their origins as if they were gingerly touching an old wound. There is Idris Bashiri, Abdullah's Bay Area doctor, who wrestles with his guilt as a privileged Westernized Afghan when he travels to his hometown of Kabul and sees the suffering of a population ravaged by ongoing privation and war. There is Markos Varvaris, a plastic surgeon and relief worker in Kabul who grew up on the Greek island of Tinos, attempting to bury the pain of his difficult childhood by aiding the disadvantaged in hotspots around the world. And there is Gholam, a thirteen-year-old Afghan boy made cynical by years of displacement in a refugee camp in Pakistan, who returns to his village with his family to find that their land has been stolen by a drug warlord.

These are all separate stories, yet Hosseini takes care to connect each of them, in roundabout ways, to the central narrative of Pari and Abdullah's ruptured family. By tracing the paths of many characters from their birthplaces to various diasporas, he has expanded his familiar themes of betrayal and redemption into a narrative edifice that is much grander than the plainer architecture of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. And he has accomplished this without losing the homespun emotional forcefulness that distinguished those earlier novels. An author with a less urgent calling might be willing merely to manage the brand of his or her success, recycling the same magic formulas that initially captivated audiences. Not so for Hosseini, a popular-fiction writer of the highest caliber whose talent is as agile and wide-ranging as his new novel itself.

Donna Rifkind's reviews appear frequently in The Washington Post Book World and the Los Angeles Times. She has also been a contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, The American Scholar, and other publications. In 2006, she was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.

Reviewer: Donna Rifkind

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101626276
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/21/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 446
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


With more than ten million copies sold in the United States of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, and more than thirty-eight million copies sold worldwide in more than seventy countries, Khaled Hosseini is one of most widely read and beloved novelists in the entire world. The Kite Runner spent 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and A Thousand Splendid Suns debuted as a #1 New York Times bestseller, remaining in the #1 spot for fifteen weeks, and spending nearly an entire year on the bestseller list. Hosseini is a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit which provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
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    1. Hometown:
      Sunnyvale, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 4, 1965
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kabul, Afghanistan
    1. Education:
      B.S. in biology, Santa Clara University, 1988; M.D., UC San Diego School of Medicine, 1993
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

One

FALL 1952

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. It’s late, and we have a long day of travel ahead of us, Pari, you and I. You will need your sleep tonight. And you too, Abdullah. I am counting on you, boy, while your sister and I are away. So is your mother. Now. One story, then. Listen, both of you, listen well. And don’t interrupt.

Once upon a time, in the days when divs and jinns and giants roamed the land, there lived a farmer named Baba Ayub. He lived with his family in a little village by the name of Maidan Sabz. Because he had a large family to feed, Baba Ayub saw his days consumed by hard work. Every day, he labored from dawn to sundown,

plowing his field and turning the soil and tending to his meager pistachio trees. At any given moment you could spot him in his field, bent at the waist, back as curved as the scythe he swung all day. His hands were always callused, and they often bled, and every night sleep stole him away no sooner than his cheek met the pillow.

I will say that, in this regard, he was hardly alone. Life in Maidan Sabz was hard for all its inhabitants. There were other, more fortunate villages to the north, in the valleys, with fruit trees and flowers and pleasant air, and streams that ran with cold, clear water. But Maidan Sabz was a desolate place, and it didn’t resemble in the slightest the image that its name, Field of Green, would have you picture. It sat in a flat, dusty plain ringed by a chain of craggy mountains. The wind was hot, and blew dust in the eyes. Finding water was a daily struggle because the village wells, even the deep ones, often ran low. Yes, there was a river, but the villagers had to endure a half-day walk to reach it, and even then its waters fl owed muddy all year round. Now, after ten years of drought, the river too ran shallow. Let’s just say that people in Maidan Sabz worked twice as hard to eke out half the living.

Still, Baba Ayub counted himself among the fortunate because he had a family that he cherished above all things. He loved his wife and never raised his voice to her, much less his hand. He valued her counsel and found genuine pleasure in her companionship. As for children, he was blessed with as many as a hand has fingers, three sons and two daughters, each of whom he loved dearly. His daughters were dutiful and kind and of good character and repute. To his sons he had taught already the value of honesty, courage, friendship, and hard work without complaint. They obeyed him, as good sons must, and helped their father with his crops.

Though he loved all of his children, Baba Ayub privately had a unique fondness for one among them, his youngest, Qais, who was three years old. Qais was a little boy with dark blue eyes. He charmed anyone who met him with his devilish laughter. He was also one of those boys so bursting with energy that he drained others of theirs. When he learned to walk, he took such delight in it that he did it all day while he was awake, and then, troublingly, even at night in his sleep. He would sleepwalk out of the family’s mud house and wander off into the moonlit darkness. Naturally, his parents worried. What if he fell into a well, or got lost, or, worst of all, was attacked by one of the creatures lurking the plains at night? They took stabs at many remedies, none of which worked. In the end, the solution Baba Ayub found was a simple one, as the best solutions often are: He removed a tiny bell from around the neck of one of his goats and hung it instead around Qais’s neck. This way, the bell would wake someone if Qais were to rise in the middle of the night. The sleepwalking stopped after a time, but Qais grew attached to the bell and refused to part with it. And so, even though it didn’t serve its original use, the bell remained fastened to the string around the boy’s neck. When Baba Ayub came home after a long day’s work, Qais would run from the house face-first into his father’s belly, the bell jingling with each of his tiny steps. Baba Ayub would lift him up and take him into the house, and Qais would watch with great attention as his father washed up, and then he would sit beside Baba Ayub at suppertime. After they had eaten, Baba Ayub would sip his tea, watching his family, picturing a day when all of his children married and gave him children of their own, when he would be proud patriarch to an even greater brood.

Alas, Abdullah and Pari, Baba Ayub’s days of happiness came to an end.

It happened one day that a div came to Maidan Sabz. As it approached the village from the direction of the mountains, the earth shook with each of its footfalls. The villagers dropped their shovels and hoes and axes and scattered. They locked themselves in their homes and huddled with one another. When the deafening sounds of the div’s footsteps stopped, the skies over Maidan Sabz darkened with its shadow. It was said that curved horns sprouted from its head and that coarse black hair covered its shoulders and powerful tail. They said its eyes shone red. No one knew for sure, you understand, at least no one living: The div ate on the spot those who dared steal so much as a single glance. Knowing this, the villagers wisely kept their eyes glued to the ground.

Everyone at the village knew why the div had come. They had heard the tales of its visits to other villages and they could only marvel at how Maidan Sabz had managed to escape its attention for so long. Perhaps, they reasoned, the poor, stringent lives they led in Maidan Sabz had worked in their favor, as their children weren’t as well fed and didn’t have as much meat on their bones. Even so, their luck had run out at last.

Maidan Sabz trembled and held its breath. Families prayed that the div would bypass their home for they knew that if the div tapped on their roof, they would have to give it one child. The div would then toss the child into a sack, sling the sack over its shoulder, and go back the way it had come. No one would ever see the poor child again. And if a household refused, the div would take all of its children.

So where did the div take the children to? To its fort, which sat atop a steep mountain. The div’s fort was very far from Maidan Sabz. Valleys, several deserts, and two mountain chains had to be cleared before you could reach it. And what sane person would, only to meet death? They said the fort was full of dungeons where cleavers hung from walls. Meat hooks dangled from ceilings. They said there were giant skewers and fire pits. They said that if it caught a trespasser, the div was known to overcome its aversion to adult meat.

I guess you know which rooftop received the div’s dreaded tap. Upon hearing it, Baba Ayub let an agonized cry escape from his lips, and his wife fainted cold. The children wept with terror, and also sorrow, because they knew that the loss of one among them was now assured. The family had until the next dawn to make its offering.

What can I say to you of the anguish that Baba Ayub and his wife suffered that night? No parent should have to make a choice such as this. Out of the children’s earshot, Baba Ayub and his wife debated what they should do. They talked and wept and talked and wept. All night, they went back and forth, and, as dawn neared, they had yet to reach a decision—which was perhaps what the div wanted, as their indecision would allow it to take five children instead of one. In the end, Baba Ayub collected from just outside the house five rocks of identical size and shape. On the face of each he scribbled the name of one child, and when he was done he tossed the rocks into a burlap sack. When he offered the bag to his wife, she recoiled as though it held a venomous snake.

“I can’t do it,” she said to her husband, shaking her head. “I cannot be the one to choose. I couldn’t bear it.”

“Neither could I,” Baba Ayub began to say, but he saw through the window that the sun was only moments away from peeking over the eastern hills. Time was running short. He gazed miserably at his five children. A finger had to be cut, to save the hand. He shut his eyes and withdrew a rock from the sack.

I suppose you also know which rock Baba Ayub happened to pick. When he saw the name on it, he turned his face heavenward and let out a scream. With a broken heart, he lifted his youngest son into his arms, and Qais, who had blind trust in his father, happily wrapped his arms around Baba Ayub’s neck. It wasn’t until Baba Ayub deposited him outside the house and shut the door that the boy realized what was amiss, and there stood Baba Ayub, eyes squeezed shut, tears leaking from both, back against the door, as his beloved Qais pounded his small fists on it, crying for Baba to let him back in, and Baba Ayub stood there, muttering, “Forgive me, forgive me,” as the ground shook with the div’s footsteps, and his son screeched, and the earth trembled again and again as the div took its leave from Maidan Sabz, until at last it was gone, and the earth was still, and all was silence but for Baba Ayub, still weeping and asking Qais for forgiveness.

Abdullah. Your sister has fallen asleep. Cover her feet with the blanket. There. Good. Maybe I should stop now. No? You want me to go on? Are you sure, boy? All right.

Where was I? Ah yes. There followed a forty-day mourning period. Every day, neighbors cooked meals for the family and kept vigil with them. People brought over what offerings they could— tea, candy, bread, almonds—and they brought as well their condolences and sympathies. Baba Ayub could hardly bring himself to say so much as a word of thanks. He sat in a corner, weeping, streams of tears pouring from both eyes as though he meant to end the village’s streak of droughts with them. You wouldn’t wish his torment and suffering on the vilest of men.

Several years passed. The droughts continued, and Maidan Sabz fell into even worse poverty. Several babies died of thirst in their cribs. The wells ran even lower and the river dried, unlike Baba Ayub’s anguish, a river that swelled and swelled with each passing day. He was of no use to his family any longer. He didn’t work, didn’t pray, hardly ate. His wife and children pleaded with him, but it was no good. His remaining sons had to take over his work, for every day Baba Ayub did nothing but sit at the edge of his field, a lone, wretched figure gazing toward the mountains. He stopped speaking to the villagers, for he believed they muttered things behind his back. They said he was a coward for willingly giving away his son. That he was an unfit father. A real father would have fought the div. He would have died defending his family.

He mentioned this to his wife one night.

“They say no such things,” his wife replied. “No one thinks you are a coward.”

“I can hear them,” he said.

“It is your own voice you are hearing, husband,” she said. She, however, did not tell him that the villagers did whisper behind his back. And what they whispered was that he’d perhaps gone mad.

And then one day, he gave them proof. He rose at dawn. Without waking his wife and children, he stowed a few scraps of bread into a burlap sack, put on his shoes, tied his scythe around his waist, and set off.

He walked for many, many days. He walked until the sun was a faint red glow in the distance. Nights, he slept in caves as the wind whistled outside. Or else he slept beside rivers and beneath trees and among the cover of boulders. He ate his bread, and then he ate what he could find—wild berries, mushrooms, fish that he caught with his bare hands from streams—and some days he didn’t eat at all. But still he walked. When passersby asked where he was going, he told them, and some laughed, some hurried past for fear he was a madman, and some prayed for him, as they too had lost a child to the div. Baba Ayub kept his head down and walked. When his shoes fell apart, he fastened them to his feet with strings, and when the strings tore he pushed forward on bare feet. In this way, he traveled across deserts and valleys and mountains.

At last he reached the mountain atop which sat the div’s fort. So eager he was to fulfill his quest that he didn’t rest and immediately began his climb, his clothes shredded, his feet bloodied, his hair caked with dust, but his resolve unshaken. The jagged rocks ripped his soles. Hawks pecked at his cheeks when he climbed past their nest. Violent gusts of wind nearly tore him from the side of the mountain. And still he climbed, from one rock to the next, until at last he stood before the massive gates of the div’s fort.

Who dares? the div’s voice boomed when Baba Ayub threw a stone at the gates.

Baba Ayub stated his name. “I come from the village of Maidan Sabz,” he said.

Do you have a wish to die? Surely you must, disturbing me in my home! What is your business?

“I have come here to kill you.”

There came a pause from the other side of the gates. And then the gates creaked open, and there stood the div, looming over Baba Ayub in all of its nightmarish glory.

Have you? it said in a voice thick as thunder.

“Indeed,” Baba Ayub said. “One way or another, one of us dies today.”

It appeared for a moment that the div would swipe Baba Ayub off the ground and finish him with a single bite of its dagger-sharp teeth. But something made the creature hesitate. It narrowed its eyes. Perhaps it was the craziness of the old man’s words. Perhaps it was the man’s appearance, the shredded garb, the bloodied face, the dust that coated him head to toe, the open sores on his skin. Or perhaps it was that, in the old man’s eyes, the div found not even a tinge of fear.

Where did you say you came from?

“Maidan Sabz,” said Baba Ayub.

It must be far away, by the look of you, this Maidan Sabz.

“I did not come here to palaver. I came here to—”

The div raised one clawed hand. Yes. Yes. You’ve come to kill me. I know. But surely I can be granted a few last words before I am slain.

“Very well,” said Baba Ayub. “But only a few.”

I thank you. The div grinned. May I ask what evil I have committed against you so as to warrant death?

“You took from me my youngest son,” Baba Ayub replied. “He was in the world the dearest thing to me.”

The div grunted and tapped its chin. I have taken many children from many fathers, it said.

Baba Ayub angrily drew his scythe. “Then I shall exact revenge on their behalf as well.”

I must say your courage rouses in me a surge of admiration.

“You know nothing of courage,” said Baba Ayub. “For courage, there must be something at stake. I come here with nothing to lose.”

You have your life to lose, said the div.

“You already took that from me.”

The div grunted again and studied Baba Ayub thoughtfully. After a time, it said, Very well, then. I will grant you your duel. But first I ask that you follow me.

“Be quick,” Baba Ayub said, “I am out of patience.” But the div was already walking toward a giant hallway, and Baba Ayub had no choice but to follow it. He trailed the div through a labyrinth of hallways, the ceiling of each nearly scraped the clouds, each supported by enormous columns. They passed many stairwells, and chambers big enough to contain all of Maidan Sabz. They walked this way until at last the div led Baba Ayub into an enormous room, at the far end of which was a curtain.

Come closer, the div motioned.

Baba Ayub stood next to the div.

The div pulled the curtains open. Behind it was a glass window. Through the window, Baba Ayub looked down on an enormous garden. Lines of cypress trees bordered the garden, the ground at their base filled with flowers of all colors. There were pools made of blue tiles, and marble terraces, and lush green lawns. Baba Ayub saw beautifully sculpted hedges and water fountains gurgling in the shade of pomegranate trees. In three lifetimes he could not have imagined a place so beautiful.

But what truly brought Baba Ayub to his knees was the sight of children running and playing happily in the garden. They chased one another through the walkways and around trees. They played games of hide-and-seek behind the hedges. Baba Ayub’s eyes searched among the children and at last found what he was looking for. There he was! His son Qais, alive, and more than well. He had grown in height, and his hair was longer than Baba Ayub remembered. He wore a beautiful white shirt over handsome trousers. He laughed happily as he ran after a pair of comrades.

“Qais,” Baba Ayub whispered, his breath fogging the glass. And then he screamed his son’s name.

He cannot hear you, the div said. Nor see you.

Baba Ayub jumped up and down, waving his arms and pounding on the glass, until the div pulled the curtains shut once more.

“I don’t understand,” Baba Ayub said. “I thought . . .”

This is your reward, the div said.

“Explain yourself,” Baba Ayub exclaimed.

I forced upon you a test.

“A test.”

A test of your love. It was a harsh challenge, I recognize, and its heavy toll upon you does not escape me. But you passed. This is your reward. And his.

“What if I hadn’t chosen,” cried Baba Ayub. “What if I had refused you your test?”

Then all your children would have perished, the div said, for they would have been cursed anyway, fathered as they were by a weak man. A coward who would see them all die rather than burden his own conscience. You say you have no courage, but I see it in you. What you did, the burden you agreed to shoulder, took courage. For that, I honor you.

Baba Ayub weakly drew his scythe, but it slipped from his hand and struck the marble floor with a loud clang. His knees buckled, and he had to sit.

Your son does not remember you, the div continued. This is his life now, and you saw for yourself his happiness. He is provided here with the finest food and clothes, with friendship and affection. He receives tutoring in the arts and languages and in the sciences, and in the ways of wisdom and charity. He wants for nothing. Someday, when he is a man, he may choose to leave, and he shall be free to do so. I suspect he will touch many lives with his kindness and bring happiness to those trapped in sorrow.

“I want to see him,” Baba Ayub said. “I want to take him home.”

Do you?

Baba Ayub looked up at the div.

The creature moved to a cabinet that sat near the curtains and removed from one of its drawers an hourglass. Do you know what that is, Abdullah, an hourglass? You do. Good. Well, the div took the hourglass, flipped it over, and placed it at Baba Ayub’s feet.

I will allow you to take him home with you, the div said. If you choose to, he can never return here. If you choose not to, you can never return here. When all the sand has poured, I will ask for your decision.

And with that, the div exited the chamber, leaving Baba Ayub with yet another painful choice to make.

I will take him home, Baba Ayub thought immediately. This was what he desired the most, with every fiber of his being. Hadn’t he pictured this in a thousand dreams? To hold little Qais again, to kiss his cheek and feel the softness of his small hands in his own? And yet . . . If he took him home, what sort of life awaited Qais in Maidan Sabz? The hard life of a peasant at best, like his own, and little more. That is, if Qais didn’t die from the droughts like so many of the village’s children had. Could you forgive yourself, then, Baba Ayub asked himself, knowing that you plucked him, for your own selfish reasons, from a life of luxury and opportunity? On the other hand, if he left Qais behind, how could he bear it, knowing that his boy was alive, to know his whereabouts and yet be forbidden to see him? How could he bear it? Baba Ayub wept. He grew so despondent that he lifted the hourglass and hurled it at the wall, where it crashed into a thousand pieces and its fine sand spilled all over the floor.

The div reentered the room and found Baba Ayub standing over the broken glass, his shoulders slumped.

“You are a cruel beast,” Baba Ayub said.

When you have lived as long as I have, the div replied, you find that cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same color. Have you made your choice?

Baba Ayub dried his tears, picked up his scythe, and tied it around his waist. He slowly walked toward the door, his head hung low.

You are a good father, the div said, as Baba Ayub passed him by.

“Would that you roast in the fires of Hell for what you have done to me,” Baba Ayub said wearily.

He exited the room and was heading down the hallway when the div called after him.

Take this, the div said. The creature handed Baba Ayub a small glass flask containing a dark liquid. Drink this upon your journey home. Farewell.

Baba Ayub took the flask and left without saying another word.

Many days later, his wife was sitting at the edge of the family’s field, looking out for him much as Baba Ayub had sat there hoping to see Qais. With each passing day, her hopes for his return diminished. Already people in the village were speaking of Baba Ayub in the past tense. One day she was sitting on the dirt yet again, a prayer playing upon her lips, when she saw a thin figure approaching Maidan Sabz from the direction of the mountains. At first she took him for a lost dervish, a thin man with threadbare rags for clothing, hollow eyes and sunken temples, and it wasn’t until he came closer yet that she recognized her husband. Her heart leapt with joy and she cried out with relief.

After he had washed, and after he had been given water to drink and food to eat, Baba Ayub lay in his house as villagers circled around him and asked him question after question.

Where did you go, Baba Ayub?

What did you see?

What happened to you?

Baba Ayub couldn’t answer them, because he didn’t recall what had happened to him. He remembered nothing of his voyage, of climbing the div’s mountain, of speaking to the div, of the great palace, or the big room with the curtains. It was as though he had woken from an already forgotten dream. He didn’t remember the secret garden, the children, and, most of all, he didn’t remember seeing his son Qais playing among the trees with his friends. In fact, when someone mentioned Qais’s name, Baba Ayub blinked with puzzlement. Who? he said. He didn’t recall that he had ever had a son named Qais.

Do you understand, Abdullah, how this was an act of mercy? The potion that erased these memories? It was Baba Ayub’s reward for passing the div’s second test.

That spring, the skies at last broke open over Maidan Sabz. What came down was not the soft drizzle of years past but a great, great rainfall. Fat rain fell from the sky, and the village rose thirstily to meet it. All day, water drummed upon the roofs of Maidan Sabz and drowned all other sound from the world. Heavy, swollen raindrops rolled from the tips of leaves. The wells filled and the river rose. The hills to the east turned green. Wildflowers bloomed, and for the first time in many years children played on grass and cows grazed. Everyone rejoiced.

When the rains stopped, the village had some work to do. Several mud walls had melted, and a few of the roofs sagged, and entire sections of farmland had turned into swamps. But after the misery of the devastating drought, the people of Maidan Sabz weren’t about to complain. Walls were reerected, roofs repaired, and irrigation canals drained. That fall, Baba Ayub produced the most plentiful crop of pistachios of his life, and, indeed, the year after that, and the one following, his crops increased in both size and quality. In the great cities where he sold his goods, Baba Ayub sat proudly behind pyramids of his pistachios and beamed like the happiest man who walked the earth. No drought ever came to Maidan Sabz again.

There is little more to say, Abdullah. You may ask, though, did a young handsome man riding a horse ever pass through the village on his way to great adventures? Did he perhaps stop for a drink of water, of which the village had plenty now, and did he sit to break bread with the villagers, perhaps with Baba Ayub himself? I can’t tell you, boy. What I can say is that Baba Ayub grew to be a very old man indeed. I can tell you that he saw his children married, as he had always wished, and I can say that his children bore him many children of their own, every one of whom brought Baba Ayub great happiness.

And I can also tell you that some nights, for no particular reason, Baba Ayub couldn’t sleep. Though he was a very old man now, he still had the use of his legs so long as he held a cane. And so on those sleepless nights he slipped from bed without waking his wife, fetched his cane, and left the house. He walked in the dark, his cane tapping before him, the night breeze stroking his face. There was a flat rock at the edge of his field and he lowered himself upon it. He often sat there for an hour or more, gazing up at the stars, the clouds floating past the moon. He thought about his long life and gave thanks for all the bounty and joy that he had been given. To want more, to wish for yet more, he knew, would be petty. He sighed happily, and listened to the wind sweeping down from the mountains, to the chirping of night birds.

But every once in a while, he thought he heard another noise among these. It was always the same, the high-pitched jingle of a bell. He didn’t understand why he should hear such a noise, alone in the dark, all the sheep and goats sleeping. Sometimes he told himself he had heard no such thing, and sometimes he was so convinced to the contrary that he called out into the darkness, “Is someone out there? Who is there? Show yourself.” But no reply ever came. Baba Ayub didn’t understand. Just as he 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.

So there it is, boy. That’s the end of it. I have nothing more to say. And now it really is late and I am tired, and your sister and I have to wake at dawn. So blow out your candle. Lay your head down and close your eyes. Sleep well, boy. We’ll say our good-byes in the morning.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 718 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 718 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2013

    Khaled Hosseini's writing is masterfully meticulous, poetic and

    Khaled Hosseini's writing is masterfully meticulous, poetic and enchanting.
    He gives his characters depth and beauty in a way that few authors are able.
    The first half of this particular novel is brilliant, rich in detail and word; It reads like poetry.
    In the second half of the novel, Hosseini's intentions became too obvious, which was frustrating for me because in his other novels, he was able to subtly weave in what he wanted the reader to take from his novel. That said, and before I continue, I must say that despite this, the book is still powerful and still worthy of acclaim. This book touches upon the diaspora of Afghan citizens; there is no distinct main character - instead, each story is an account which represents the lives, hurdles and world perceptions of people who have fled Afghanistan, remained in Afghanistan, returned to Afghanistan, even touching upon Narco-terrorism and Taliban restrictions and ramifications. I found that several characters were essential only to the story in that they filled a slot where Hosseini intended to teach his reader. This is commendable for a writer and a novel however, the stories grew less heartening as the book went on. While a good writer knows that a happy ending can ruin a book, and I was pleased Hosseini did not travel this route, I was dissatisfied. I understand that that could have been Hosseini's intention as the plight of Afghanistan is heartrendingly dissatisfying. I still feel that Hosseini could have done better justice in the end of the book. His final narrator, Pari, was not as endearing or as instrumental to the story than others in it were. I was disappointed that she was gifted with closing such a massive, generational story. The frequent, interminable shifting of characters (none returned to) grew tiresome. Hosseini is gifted at drawing his readers in, so the changes did not ruin the story, but certainly took from my captivation. Nit-picking aside, I would recommend this novel with high praise for its poetic nature and educational undertones. Hosseini's writing is incomparable and I only give it such a tedious review because I know how capable he is. I will forever be a fan, buying and cherishing anything he publishes.    

    71 out of 80 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2013

    Khaled is such a wonderful storyteller. I read Kite Runner and A

    Khaled is such a wonderful storyteller. I read Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns years ago and still remember the characters so well. I was so happy to read his latest offering and was not disappointed! Beautiful!

    33 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2013

    This story describes the beauty and essence of Afghanistan that

    This story describes the beauty and essence of Afghanistan that makes us all fall in love with the country. Hosseini explores the relationships between parents, their children, extended family and friends in such a way that no one else can. I immediately fell in love with these characters. I sympathized with them, celebrated with them, and explored their relationships with them. I really enjoyed this book and can't say enough good things about it! Hosseini's writing style is elegant and beautiful. He brings beauty to a country that has been consumed by war and violence for so many years. I love reading his books because I learn a little more about the culture every time, and I find it very fascinating!

    31 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    Another triumph for Khaled Hosseini. It was worth the six year w

    Another triumph for Khaled Hosseini. It was worth the six year wait. I couldn't
    imagine that I'd like a book as much as I did his last two novels,  but indeed
    I did. This beautifully crafted, multi-generational story made me weep while
    I was reading it. I  felt like weeping again
      when I finished it; I wish it had been longer. One of those rare
    books that I will think about for a long while after I finish it.
    Highly recommended.

    24 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    Wow!

    This was better even than his other books and they were top notch. This author weaves such incredible stories into one masterpiece. I become so entwined in the lives of his characters that I hate to have the book end! I will always have my eye watching out for Khaled Hosseini and hopefully he is working on another breath-taking story!

    19 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    This book seems okay

    I can see why some people would like this book, but it really wasn't for me. I don't really like emotional books, so this one wasn't so great. It just reminded me of one of the books my fourth grade teacher would like. I also read another book, years ago, that was similar to this one. It was also kind of half poem, and had a complicated message that has to do with emotions. It was called The Underneath. Anyway, I would not reread this book, because, like I said, it is too emotional.

    17 out of 58 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    this is one of his best. i couldn't put the book down i felt lov

    this is one of his best. i couldn't put the book down i felt love, empathy,& sympathy for his characters and the people of afghanistan. at the end of the book i cried i wanted it to continue another 500 pages. this is a 5 star book. i just wish he would write a book more often, 6 years is too long to wait for his superior storytelling.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Gorgeous

    This is a beautiful, raw, authentic story of life and of connections. I wept. Wonderful novel.

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    Disappointing

    I am a huge fan of the author. In fact "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is one of my favorite books. I have also read "Kite Runner" and now this book. The book is really just a series of stories put together in a way I thought didn't fit that well. I thought it ran a little dry from time to time. The descriptions are beautiful as always though. I do still look forward to whatever Mr. Hosseini has to offer us.

    14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Left Looking for More

    The story is a good one, with characters intertwined throughout the book. At times I found it difficult to follow, as the story would jump around between locations, periods in time, and characters. I felt like there were too many loose ends at the end of the book. For me, there were too many characters with unresolved issues.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini This book is best d

    And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

    This book is best described as a series of short stories, intertwined by the fact that the characters are somehow related and going from 1949 until present.

    The first story is about two siblings, Abdullah and Pari, Saboor's children. Their mother died in childbirth when Pari was born and they shared a link that was quite strong. After starting the book with a story told by Saboor about a din who stole children in poor villages, Sabbor sells Pari to Suleiman and Nabhi Wahdati in Kabul, a rich couple.

    Saboor Marries Parwana as his second wife and the next story is about how Parwana and her twin sister, Masoona share their life. Masoona is the beautiful one, whereas Parwana is just plain: so at age 17 Parwana pushes her twin sister off a tree, thus crippling her. Parwana is thus forced to take care of her sister until Masoona frees her from her duty so she can marry Saboor.

    Another story is about Nabi, Masoona and Parwana older brother, who finds employment with the Wahdati in Kabul as a chauffeur and cook. Come to find out, Suleiman Wahdati was in love with Nabi, but because that was forbidden, Suleiman just hires him for his company. As Suleiman has a stroke, his wife abandons him with the daughter, Pari, whom they bought from Saboor, and Nabi is forced to care for Suleiman until he dies; thus their love story is told.

    Another story is about cousins Idris and Timus, who were neighbors of the Wahdati's in Kabul. They come to Kabul in 2002 to reclaim their old house, which they can rent to the foreigners for a lot of money. Idris meets a little girl at a Kabul hospital - Roshana - who needs a surgery to heal her from an ax wound to her head. Idris is a physician himself and he bonds with the little girl, promising to take her to the US where he works to have her surgery. Unfortunately once he goes back to the US, he just forgets about Afghanistan and the girl.

    Another story is about Nila Wahdati and her adoptive daughter, Pari as they live and grow in Paris. Nila is beautiful and a poet; she has plenty of lovers and makes Pari feel guilty. They even share a lover and Pari has to take care of her mother until she kills herself.

    Another story is about the warlords of the new Afghanistan.

    Another story is about a Greek plastic surgeon, Dr. Markos Varvaris, who's from Tinos, an island in Greece. He is currently inhabiting the Wahdati's residence in Kabul which is now owned by Nabi. It tells the story of a friend of his, Thalia who was the daughter of his mother's best friend. Thalia was abandoned in Tinos because she had a terrible disfiguration on her face and she grows up like a sister and ends up taking care of Markos' mother.

    The last story is about Pari, daughter of Abdullah and Sultana. Pari is so named after Abdulla's sister, the one he lost in Kabul. Pari has dreamt of that sister from birth and is finally contacted by her aunt, Pari, who wishes to visit her. The aunt found out about her because Dr. Markos called her to let her know her uncle, Nabi, had instructed she should be found. It's from this that she learns who she really is and is able to contact her brother who now lives in northern California. Unfortunately her brother has had a stroke and can't recognize his sister.

    The stories are written either from the first or third person point of view - a thing I found annoying - and each one is more depressing than the prior one. I love Mr. Hosseini's prose and his ability to story tell, but I wish he found something more pleasant to write about.

    11 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    Grow up.

    This communication is for book reviews and to guide others that enjoy reading with intelligent feedback for those of you that feel the need to mock and make fun of real intelligence, grow up!!!!!

    10 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    Fabulous.

    Fabulous.

    9 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Khaled Hosseini books

    Hard to follow . Jumped around. Not as good as his other books.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Disappointed

    Not nearly the book as the first two. I was so excited when I saw this book on the shelves. I rushed back home and purchased it for my Nook. What a disappointed. Save you money.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    Highy recommended

    Khaled Hosseini has a keen ability to weave characters throughout his book making this reader uncertain how the people were connected to each other. But he is kind enough to use descriptions almost verbatim in order for us to distinguish how they fit into his story. So many of his sentences read as if they were a poem. I am honored to have read another book he has written and am only saddened that the story ended. I will surely purchase anything this author has penned.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    highly recommend

    As I got within the last few pages of this book I finally figured out what I wanted to say in this review. Mr. Hosseini has a hat trick now. If you don't know what a hat trick is, It's three goals in one game by the same person. I've read all three of his books and I anxiously await another. He describes his feelings with lines that make me sit back and think " I've felt like that but didn't know how to express it" A good read makes any book seem too short. There are sad parts in this book but so is there in real life. Well worth the read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    I have read all of Mr.Hosseini's book and loved them all. He is

    I have read all of Mr.Hosseini's book and loved them all. He is a gifted writer who can take you to these far away places as though you were actually there. His characters are so real, so human. I have to say though, that since there are so many of them, it is hard to fully connect the way I did with the characters in previous books.  It's a must read none the less.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Attention

    Please stop telling the ending of books!!! That is a book report, not a review. This is not cool, people. Would like to read the book without knowing important details. Two stars since you spelled everything correctly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    I love Hosseini and looked forward to the publication of this bo

    I love Hosseini and looked forward to the publication of this book. I absolutely loved the first half of the book. It was typical of his previous efforts. The second half, however, caused me great disappointment. It told another story and I kept waiting for it to be joined up and fitted into the story told in the first half. Quite simply, it didn't. As a resulted I found this book quite mystifying. Its disjointedness really freaked me out. I don't know if it was the intent of Hosseini to tell two stories. It was ias if he was writing two short stories. Yes, there was a connection but a very tenuous and unsatisfying one.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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