Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father, Saboor, and stepmother in the village of Shadbagh. Work is in short supply and they struggle through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari is everything: more like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her. At night they sleep together in their cot, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father, having no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2013: Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed begins simply enough, with a father recounting a folktale to his two young children. The tale is about a young boy who is taken by a div (a sort of ogre), and how that fate might not be as terrible as it first seems—a brilliant device that firmly sets the tone for the rest of this sweeping, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel. A day after he tells the tale of the div, the father gives away his own daughter to a wealthy man in Kabul. What follows is a series of stories within the story, told through multiple viewpoints, spanning more than half a century, and shifting across continents. The novel moves through war, separation, birth, death, deceit, and love, illustrating again and again how people’s actions, even the seemingly selfless ones, are shrouded in ambiguity. This is a masterwork by a master storyteller. —Chris Schluep