A few weeks ago I found myself, luckily, on holiday, far far away from home, on a lovely exotic beach. When I was little my parents had a wallpaper with a photo of this lovely beach with deep blue clear water, white sand and palm trees. And my favorite game was imagining that I was there, on that beach. Years later, my dreams came true and I actually got on that beach (ok, maybe not that exact one, but pretty close to the picture).
What I haven’t thought about back then is what exactly do you do the whole day on a beach? Ok, you swim, you sleep, you take silly (and maybe not very) pictures…and then?
That is why, whenever I leave for a longer vacation, on the beach, I always have with me at least one book (or let’s say 3 or 4 this time around…the risk of not liking at least one of them is reduced this way).
This time around I’ve managed to read 3 lovely books, very different from one another, but all of them an eye opener to the world they were talking about: India (cultural differences seen by an Indian girl returned from the US after 6 years of no contact with her mother country in The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi), Sudan (the shocking story told by Mukesh Kapila, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan during the genocide) and last but not least, Afghanistan through the eyes of Khaled Hosseini in “And the mountains echoed”.
The later made me devour it page after page after page (as all his books I might add). Hosseini is a true storyteller, who knows how to catch the attention and keep you in tension from the first to the last page, making you wonder what will happen next, trying to understand who the character is and what exactly is his/her part in the whole picture.
“And the mountains echoed” is a puzzle of characters, emotions, discoveries, love, hate, betrayal, hope, disillusion. It is not only the story of Abdullah and his little sister Pari, but also their father’s Saboor story; their uncle’s Nabi life story in Kabul serving and in the end sharing the life with the sick Mr. Wahdati; the story of sad and misunderstood Nila Wahdati (Pari’s stepmother); the heartbreaking story of Parwana, Saboor’s second wife and her sister Masooma; the captivating story of the Greek dr. Markos Varvaris from childhood up until his time spent in Kabul in Mr. Wahdati’s home.
The book takes you through all the layers from poverty in a lost Afghan town, to opulence and vibrancy in Kabul. From sufferance in Paris, to shame for not being able to do something meaningful with one’s life in the US. No matter where you come from or what you’ve been through, you will find something touching at least in one of Hosseini’s stories.
So what do you usually read on vacation?