You’ll be forgiven for thinking that Khaled Hosseini’s third novel, And the Mountains Echoed (out today), is just like his previous two. Like bestsellers The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, his latest is a multi-generational family saga — a novel that starts in rural Afghanistan, yes, but that grows up and out, jumping both forward in time and across the world, to Europe and the United States; and informed, in part, by his own experiences traveling to Afghanistan in recent years. The result has a deceptive emotional scale, often in the same chapter. (Our Stephan Lee gave it an A.) “Everything for me starts very small and snowballs. So I rarely start with the grand idea and find a place for it and narrow down,” Hosseini says. “It’s really just start small and as I’m writing it I begin to see, sometime to my own surprise, what’s unfolding and what’s blooming.”
The author spoke with us about the gap between his second and the third novel; the experiences that informed the very large cast of characters; and how readers have begun responding to “the tree” that is his newest novel.