Khaled Hosseini doesn’t disappoint with his third book – ‘And the Mountains Echoed’. He has to be one of my favorite authors, and I look forward to reading his next novel. While some say it seems like he writes about the same thing in all his novels, it takes a very talented writer to capture so many different and engaging personalities, stories and vantage points using very similar geographical and historical settings/context that he sets for his stories. Here are a few excerpts of the conversations, observations and reflections in the book that stood out to me–including the acknowledgement to his wife Roya “without [whom] this book would have died somewhere in the first paragraph of page one.”
By Khaled Hosseini
…country has been sufficiently chronicled…I can sum it up in one word: war. Or, rather, wars. Not one, not two, but many wars, both big and small, just and unjust, warms with shifting casts of supposed heroes and villains, each new hero making one increasingly nostalgic for the old villain. The names changed, as did the faces, and I spit on them equally of all the petty feuds, the snipers, the land mines, bombing raids, the rockets, the looting and raping and killing. Ah, enough!
‘Which are you calling me, deaf or lazy?’
‘No need to pick, I’m calling you both!’
‘You have some gall calling me lazy for someone who lies in bed all day.’
Now I was free to do as I wished, but I found the freedom illusory, for what I wished for the most had been taken from me.
They say, find a purpose in your life and live it. But sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind.
The word senseless springs to mind, and Idris thwarts it. It’s what people always say. A senseless act of violence. A senseless murder. As if you could commit sensible murder.
I see the creative process as a necessarily thievish undertaking. Dig beneath a beautiful piece of writing … and you will find all manner of dishonor. Creating means vandalizing the lives of other people, turning them into unwilling and unwitting participants. You steal their desires, their dreams, pocket their flaws, their suffering. You take what does not belong to you. You do this knowingly.
I was told I could have died. Perhaps I should have. Dying can be quite the career move for a young poet.
..if an avalanche buries you and you’re lying there underneath all that snow, you can’t tell which way is up or down. You want to dig yourself out, but pick the wrong way, and you dig yourself to your own demise.
In my experience, men who understand women as well as you seem to rarely want to have anything to do with them.
I have a theory about marriage… its nearly always you will know within two weeks if it’s going to work. It’s astonishing how many people remain shackled for years, decades even, in a protracted and mutual state of self-delusion and false hope when in fact they had their answer in those first two weeks.
She is furious with herself for her own stupidity. Opening herself up like this, voluntarily, to a lifetime of worry and anguish. It was madness. Sheer lunacy. A spectacularly foolish and baseless faith, against enormous odds, that a world you do not control will not take from you the one thing you cannot bear to lose. Faith that the world will not destroy you…at that moment, she cannot think of a more reckless, irrational thing than choosing to become a parent.
‘…you dig a little and you find they’re all the same, give or take. Some are more polished, granted. They may come with a bit of charm—or a lot—and that can fool you. But really they’re all unhappily little boys slothing around in their own rage. They feel wronged. They haven’t been given their due. No one loved them enough. Of course they expect you to love them. They want to be held, rocked, reassured. But it’s a mistake to give it to them. They can’t accept it. They can’t accept the very thing they’re needing. They end up hating you for it. And it never ends because they can’t hate you enough. It never ends—the misery, the apologies, the promises, the reneging, the wretchedness of it all. My first husband was like that. ‘
The rope that pulls you from the flood can become a noose around your neck.
Markos wants to walk the earth and capture it with his lens.
He had a frozen, wide-eyed look to his face, I remember, the way some old people do, like they are perpetually started by the monstrous surprise that is old age…
The world didn’t see the inside of you..it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bone. It was as simple, as absurd, and as cruel as that.
‘James Parkinson. George Huntington. Robert Graves. John Down. Now this Lou Gehrig fellow of mine. How did men come to monopolize disease names too?’
When I was a little girl, my father and I had a nightly ritual. After I’d said my twenty-one Bismillahs and he had tucked me into bed, he would sit at my side and pluck bad dreams from my head with his thumb and forefinger.
..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.
If what had been done to her was like a wave that had crashed far from shore, then it was the backwash of that wave now pooling around my ankles, then receding from my feet.
…I knew my father was a wounded person, that his love for me was as true, vast, and permanent as the sky, and that it would always bear down upon me. It was the kind of love that, sooner or later, cornered you into a choice: either you tore free or you stayed and withstood its rigor even as it squeezed you into something smaller than yourself.
‘But time is like a charm, you never have as much as you think.’
..she had also very deep sadness. All my life, she gave to me a shovel and said, Fill these holes inside of me, Pari.’
I used to picture us as two leaves, blowing miles apart in the wind yet bound by the deep tangled roots of the tree from which we had both fallen.
They tell me I must wade into waters, where I will soon drown. Before I march in, I leave this on the shore for you. I pray you find it, sister, so you will know what was in my heart as I went under.
Acknowledgements – Without you, Roya, this book would have died somewhere in the first paragraph of page one. I love you.