#And the Mountains Echoed:
My Review of this Khaled Houssaini Classic book released in 2013
KH is such a susceptible and Cognizant writer whom I wouldn’t praise for glueing u into the book but for cathartic writing who doesn’t allow you to finish the book with some liquids on your eyes on and off. Add some horripilations which arises by those casual relationships and characters which do nothing but a daily routine and act completely human to those particular situations. He is not a legendary writer but definitely a purgative. He relaxes your mind by the simplistic narration and you will be blown away when someone tells that all his Kabul and afghan encounters are derived purely from intentional meetings and visits as he has never lived there before. Hard for even an afghan living in that region to believe.
In this book, he brings upon this unique narration where u go on a world tour, visiting Afghan, of course , then France and various other European entities, a book without mentioning India? No. , and he gives this ‘I am a native’ feeling which only very few authors I have read have injected on to me.
And his choosy sentences including similes amd metaphors which brings that magical feeling about literature :
“She made lighthearted jokes that, on the surface, appeared to poke fun at her own ignorance.”
“She said there was comfort to be found in the permeable of mathematical truths.”
It amazes me the way he writes about the process of creative writing in the interview of a prominent character Nila Wahdati, who is an author herself in the book:
“NW: I see the creative process as a necessary theivish undertaking. Dig beneath a beautiful piece of writing, you will find all manner if dishonour.
Creating means vandalising the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steak their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what doesn’t belong to you. You do it knowingly.”
The above would be his best confession from the entire book.
And the way he thrusts and defines faith in his own terms:
“A spectacularly foolish and baseless faith, against enormous odds, that a world you don not control will not take from you the one thing you cannot bear to lose. ”
Act of utmost simplicity on how people live their life and how he thinks :
“People learned to live with the most unimaginable things”
“SORROW ought to be private…not flaunted”
Or the paradoxes of life he nooses into you:
“The rope that pulls you from the flood can become a noose around your neck”
This might bring some wetness in your eyes when he mentions how he makes a dying boy smile without knowing his language through a character called Markos, my most favourite person in the book:
“Sometimes I put my hands together and make shadows animals on the wall to win a smile from him”
He directs the victory towards when it’s not actually his!
One about beauty :
“Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly”
Referring it to the entire humanity not to flash their gift and others to get convinced that it was not the way god chose to present that they are the elites but it was just random and everyone had their own gift in one form or the other. It just strikes as my next best epiphany next only to the ‘Definition of Epiphany’ itself!
You can’t miss this social-human behaviour-symmetry he presents :
“Human behaviour is messy and predictable and unconcerned with convenient symmetries. ”
He defines the strong bond through the some beautified choice of words, you’ll realise how even stretches of boredom and illness is a must for a robust bond:
“I have been absent. Absent for all the meals … (We) have shared at this table, the laughs, the quarrels, the stretches of boredom, the illness, the long stripes of simple rituals make up a lifetime.”
He breathes some sense into our self-regretting minds when he retorts: “all it will beget is regret, I tell myself, and what good is regret? It brings back nothing. What we have lost is irretrievable. ”
One of his bests for KH himself would be :
“He said if culture was a house, then language was the key to the front door, to all rooms inside. Without it, you needed up wayward, without a proper home or legitimate identity.”
For the importance to learn Farsi or any of your mother tongues and how important it’s for your own culture, heritage and legacy to live on.
Not to forget, he makes you read a little of Farsi, German, French (sur la pont D’Avignon song, lol), too for turning the book into a multicultural gift and not being restricted in Kabul alone. He was my first foreign author, technically no different from India to realise that u can still be inspired by nothing but the human emotions and bonds – that they are the most valuable and precious gift to humanity. I’m sure as hell, waiting for his next book.
And I’ll finish this review with my MOST FAVOURITE quote from the book:
“They think they live by what they want. But really what guides then is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want”