To this day, when I ask librarians to name a surprise hit in their libraries, many of them still offer up Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, published almost a decade ago by Riverhead Books. That book spent 103 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list. Its successor, A Thousand Splendid Suns, debuted in the top spot on the Times list and stayed there for 15 weeks, eventually spending almost a year on the list. Worldwide, there are almost 38 million copies of these two books available in 70 countries. So no doubt ears will perk up at the news that Hosseini is publishing a new novel in May 2013, his first book in six years.
And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). May 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781594631764. $28.95) explores how we love and care for others, particularly family members, and how choices we make can have long-term consequences not just for us but for those we hold dear. That’s hardly surprising, coming from an author who says “I am forever drawn to family as a recurring central theme of my writing.” Hosseini’s work here is multigenerational, focusing on brothers and sisters, thus broadening his scope.
Readers flock to fiction about families, of course, and Hosseini’s focus on his native Afghanistan only magnifies the appeal. The Kite Runner was one of the first truly big post-9/11 novels of the Middle East, part of a wave that carries us right up to Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden and Najaf Mazari’s The Honey Thief, April titles I’ve written about recently. However fraught America’s attitude toward the Middle East and, more specifically, Islam (which obviously extends beyond that region), there’s a heartening amount of publishing on these subjects, both fiction and nonfiction, upmarket and popular. Publishers aren’t charities; they wouldn’t publish if demand weren’t high. Certainly, demand for Hosseini’s latest will be high (I’ll let you know more details about promotion when I find out), and it should be just one more step toward understanding.