Khaled Hosseini Goes to Heart of Characters' Desires

By Henderson, Jane | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

Khaled Hosseini Goes to Heart of Characters' Desires


Henderson, Jane, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Khaled Hosseini's first novel, "The Kite Runner," became a sensation in 2003. Hosseini, now 48, was able to stop working as a physician while writing his second novel, "A Thousand Spendid Suns."

He says he struggled with the second book, in part, because it was about two women. At some point, he decided to go "straight to character without so much concern about nailing a voice that 'sounded' female. I stopped worrying about gender and went right to the heart of the character's fears and desires."

His third novel, which features a brother and sister, goes on sale Tuesday. Hosseini (pronounced ho-SAY-nee) talked by telephone from his home in northern California before embarking on a huge book tour to St. Louis and some 40 other cities for "And the Mountains Echoed."

Q * Both of your novels have been big successes. Did you feel any pressure writing this new novel?

A * No, I've never felt any pressure on making it a best-seller. But the pressure that every writer feels is that one day you go to work and there is nothing to say. I love losing myself in a fictional world and creating character. There is an inherent sense of insecurity, though, about whether I'll be able to keep doing it. I think it's a healthy thing. Keeps you from resting on your laurels.

Q * How long did you work on this novel?

A * About 2 years.

Q * There's almost a "Sophie's Choice" angle, isn't there?

A * Yeah. I never thought of that. It's a decision that no parent would ever want to have to make. It's obviously heartbreaking for this guy that the only way to save his family is to give away one of his children.

I read a lot of stories about this kind of thing happening in Afghanistan in 2008. I asked my father, and he said he had heard of it happening when growing up in the 1940s and '50s. Where so-and-so sold his child because he had eight children and didn't have the means to take care of them.

Of course, events like that are filled with drama for writers.

Q * Do you still practice medicine? …

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