rating: 5 of 5 stars
The accessibility to the Western reader of Hossieni's narrative journey through the eras of modern Afghanistan is an incredible accomplishment on its own. Add to that the care with which he crafted the characters who drive this story forward, and this novel becomes a signal to me of a writer who will hopefully continue digging deep into the well of his craft, alternately enchanting and educating.
Not everyone who liked Kite Runner will like this novel, but I prefer it. The page turning suspense of his first work is reduced here to moments of narrative climax, while the overall tone is one of subtle persistence. There is an insistence upon the reader to recognize that the mundane in one context can be horrifying or electrifying in another. Sorrow and joy are explored here as Kahlil Gibran paints them--they are inseparable.
In this novel, the ambiguity of Amir's actions in Kite Runner is now extended to nearly every character portrayed. Each has the stain of complexity that makes us truly human. Though the reader might be unfamiliar with the cultural setting, there is a similarity that invites empathy while simultaneously defying universality. The joys and sorrows of the people of Afghanistan--Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, and Uzbek alike--are unique to their history. Yet, in making us laugh and cry through their stories, Hosseini allows us a vital, and all too brief connection.
I highly recommend this novel.
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