And the Mountains Echoed , by Khaled Hosseini, Bloomsbury, $32.99.
There's something deliciously engulfing about Khaled Hosseini's writing, taking us on a journey so intense and recognisable that you never want to let go. It doesn't matter that the lands he transports us to are faraway and unfamiliar.
In fact, it makes the story even more entrancing — for at the centre of Hosseini's world is a heart-wrenching pulse of human emotion, the pain and struggles that unite us all; the bonds and betrayals of family and love, the unspeakable brutality of war.
His two previous books — The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns — were best-sellers and this new novel is certain to gain him yet more fans.
The story starts in Afghanistan in 1952 with Abdullah and his younger sister, Pari, inseparable in their own childish world as their father battles with poverty and biting winters in a rural village. With their mother dead, Abdullah steps into the breach to raise his beloved sister — the siblings sleeping, eating and playing together as a powerful unit.
Even when their father, Saboor, remarries and adds to the family, Abdullah and Pari share a unique bond.
Then, one day, Pari is bundled up for a mysterious journey across the desert with her father and despite being ordered to remain behind and help his stepmother, Abdullah stubbornly follows them on the long trek to Kabul, incapable of letting his sister out of his sight.
En route, Saboor recounts an allegorical fable about a monster ("a div") stealing children from starving villagers, which provides a magical and telling framework for the very real stories that follow.
In Kabul, Pari is sold to her uncle's employer for a better life with rich parents and, in a complex and feverishly engrossing story across many time zones and continents, the ramifications of this action plays out.
This is just one of a clutch of interwoven tales that delve into different types of love, fractured family relations and the impact of war and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And while this may all sound rather heavy, in Hosseini's hands it is light, lyrical, always surprising and deeply moving.
About the author: KHALED HOSSEINI
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965, but his family was granted political asylum in the US in 1980.
Initially trained as a doctor, he has since sold more than 38 million books in 70 countries. He was "astonished" when, in 2003, his debut novel, The Kite Runner, which he says, "I knew I had to write", became a world best-seller. "I thought I was writing it for myself," he says. It took Hosseini six years to write his third novel, And The Mountains Echoed. The inspiration for the book's two main characters came from sisters Hosseini met on his last visit to his homeland.
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