After the all-night sob-fest that was A Thousand Splendid Suns for yours truly, I should have learnt that anything by Khaled Hosseini is best avoided on a work night unless I want to stumble into the office with puffy eye-bags and a hankering for more caffine than my digestive system can cope with (if you know what I mean).
Well I didn't. I started And The Mountains Echoed just before bed (again) and ended up having to basically poison myself with caffeine the next day and bat away 'are you OK' questions from concerned co-workers. Suffice it to say, I was on the porcelin throne a lot that day. Once I get to it, I think I'll just accept my fate with The Kite Runner and take the day off.
And The Mountains Echoed traces the life of two siblings whose lives follow two very different trajectories across different classes and continents, with heartbreak at almost every step of the way. If you've read any of Hosseini's books, you know what kind of ride you're in for
(tragedy porn) - a book full of vibrant descriptions and lurching emotions, setting scenes that you can imagine so vividly you find yourself wondering why anyone bothers with movies at all. Set across Afghanistan, France, America and Greece, it both explores the Afghani diaspora and also the lives of the foreign aid workers who came to Afghanistan in the 2000s.
I will say that, overall, I preferred A Thousand Splendid Suns but And The Mountains Echoed was a solid, gratifying read with twists and turns. Characters are not necessarily likeable, and their actions and behaviour sometimes grating, but I do not think likeable characters are hallmarks of good books and Hosseini's talent is in making his characters believable, relatable and very, very human.