Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

From the start of this book the reader is in the hands of a master. The beauty with which Hosseini tells his tale is at times at odds with his harrowing subject matter.

It seems unbelievable that this renowned writer has only penned three novels. Readers have waited for six years to get their hands on another one of his sweeping tales. In Hosseini’s latest, one event echoes across the generations establishing the theme of familial ties.

Set in Afghanistan the relationship between two siblings, Abdullah and Pari, is pivotal to the plot. They live in the small fictitious village of Shadbagh with their father and step-mother. Their father, Saboor, is often out of work and finding it difficult to support his family. Abdullah is more like a father figure to his younger sister Pari, always taking prodigious care of her.

One day without any warning the sibling’s journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari is taken from Abdullah, sold by her father, to be brought up in better surroundings. Abdullah is heartbroken, not knowing where Pari is or what has become of her. A large cast of characters are all deeply affected by the heart breaking separation early on in the lives of these two siblings.

The story begins in 1952 and concludes in present day. Throughout this time we see these two siblings struggle through childhood and then on to their own families. Both separated by countries and culture. From Afghanistan Hosseini transports his story to Paris, the small Greek island of Tinos and San Francisco.

Relationships are key, each chapter told with adept brilliance from the point of view of one of the many characters. Families love each other, betray each other, come together and tear each other apart.

Weaving in between the stories of these two siblings are smaller tales. A Greek doctor who lives in Kabul stumbles across Pari’s story, but as he does so his own story unfolds. Similarly as two young doctors visit Kabul another sub plot is revealed. Strands of different stories all meld into one sweeping epic.

An expertly told, moving and brilliant novel.

 

 

 

 

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