And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

Unlike his other novels, affamed for their heartbreaking and tellingly brutal tales, And the Mountains Echoed forges a story of another kind of sadness.

Staying true to his customary theme of Afghanistan, Hosseini begins his novel following the lives of two twins, bound inseparable in their first years but subject like so many to the inescapable whims of poverty and survival.

It is from their stories that a series of other interlinking narratives unfold, following the tales of characters spanning the world over, each with some part of their life ever relating them back to Afghanistan.

Interestingly, this means that a significant portion of the novel features a wealthier, Western living, not the usual hardships of Taliban rule and oppresiveness so featured in his other novels. And the Mountains Echoed approaches the violence and oppresiveness Afghanistan experienced from a much more detached nature. Rather than delve directly into such hardship, it instead remains poised at its very edge looking in, much as the many thousands of luckier and more privileged souls do throughout their lives.

Hosseini’s message, told in his encapsulating prose, is one of family and home. That no matter how far you may go, how different a life you may forge, the past is ever a part of you which you cannot simply shed. We all have a calling to our birthplace and home, it is up to us whether we answer it, or forever shut it away.

Length: 463 (Bloomsbury)

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

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The Incorruptibles, by John Hornor Jacobs 

25246213In a land built on steampunk contraptions and demonic beings, The Incorruptibles mixes the dangerous ingenuity and extravagance of ancient Rome, with the hard corruption of the wild west. Along with a dash of fantasy, this cross-genre novel harbours both ingenuity and intrigue.

‘The Hardscrabble Territories’ are an unforgiving land, filled with all manner of terrors, where roughened men seek solace for their sins in the fiery depths of the bottle. Damnation is not only rife, but physically apparent, as demon spawn and hell fire fuel mankind’s greed. Jacobs’ gritty western dialect and fluid description creates a harsh yet vivid world of ever-present hardship.

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The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden, By Jonas Jonasson

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Exotically imaginative and audaciously funny, The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden is another wonderful example of Jonasson’s witty and entertaining writing style. Following on from the success of his debut novel, once again Jonasson spins an irreverent and impossible narrative, born from small beginnings surging ever on towards the large and the great.

 

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Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

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In his debut novel, once more Saunders’ irreverent, sporadic and moving style is put masterfully to use to capture a powerful narrative. Composed of dozens of voices, from which history merges with fiction in a mesmerising whole, Lincoln in the Bardo is an entirely singular novel, certainly the first of its kind, and one which will long be remembered.

 

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Ordinary Thunderstorms, by William Boyd

9781408802854Ordinary Thunderstorms is a novel which certainly isn’t lacking in momentum, wasting little time in diving into its fast paced narrative. With an assortment of colourful characters, drawn from all parts of London society, this is quite a different read compared to Boyd’s other novels. Though any thriller faces the potential of being labeled as being somewhat commercialised, Ordinary Thunderstorms is still absorbingly fast paced, varied and highly gripping. 

 

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The Time Traveller, by H. G. Wells

A short yet delightful classic, written with all the civility expected of a victorian gentlemen, The Time Machine is science fiction at one of its earliest beginnings. Though the novel could certainly have been longer, there are still enough philosophical thoughts and strange imaginings to provide an enjoyable few hours of entertainment.

 

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TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

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Human nature transcends time, ever offering violence upon the innocent, cruelty bred from war. Following a number of timelines and characters, Transatlantic explores the strifes of humanity, which echo on throughout history.

McCann’s subtle links and recurring themes underlying his plot certainly make for an interesting read. As the novel progresses, what at first appear seemingly unrelated stories become delicately intertwined, passing down through generations. TransAtlantic delves through history, shedding light on the unchanging nature of life for all our past ancestors, from violence to love, and hope to woe. Under the backdrop of an ever aggrieved Ireland and the fragile promise of America, McCann skillfully relates the hardships of humanity from a variety of characters, whose lives merge into one another’s in the slightest of ways.  

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