This novel’s opening fairy tale of a child-stealing div (a nightmarish character from Afghan folklore) sets the stage for the heart-wrenching tragedy that befalls young Abdullah and his beloved little sister, Pari. Though the nature of that tragedy is impossible to convey without spoiling the book’s opening, suffice it to say that the siblings share a deep bond. What happens to them sends shock waves through several generations.
As the story spirals out from rural Afghanistan to Paris to Greece to America, it can be hard to tell the players without a program. But Hosseini once again proves he is a superior storyteller whose insights into human nature can make the reader both cringe and exult in the space of a single chapter. As he says, “Human behavior is messy and unpredictable and unconcerned with convenient symmetries.” This book is also somewhat messy and unpredictable, but well worth the read. (Riverhead)