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Khaled Hosseini's latest inspires digital Echo experience

Categories: Books

The Echo ProjectThe Echo Project is creating a page-by-page digital companion to and reflection of bestselling author Khaled Hosseini's latest novel And the Mountain's Echoed. (Dare/Penguin Canada)

A map of Afghanistan. Footage of a weeping man. A weather report for Kabul. An unusual new digital companion to Khaled Hosseini's And The Mountains Echoed is taking shape through vivid imagery, intriguing sounds and fan interpretations of the anticipated novel.

EchoProject.ca is meant to be experienced while reading the internationally bestselling author and acclaimed storyteller's third book. And The Mountains Echoed is a multi-generational family tale following its characters from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco and beyond.

As you progress with the text, you can access the interactive Echo Project website (on your laptop or smartphone, for instance) to peruse photos, video, audio-book excerpts and interactive artwork directly inspired — page by page — by Hosseini's poignant writing.

Khaled HosseiniBestselling author Khaled Hosseini just released his latest novel, And the Mountains Echoed. (Charles Sykes/AP)

And The Mountains Echoed is one of Penguin Canada's biggest fiction releases this year and the idea behind the Echo Project was to reach out to readers beyond a traditional ad campaign and author events, like the one held Monday night in Toronto, said publicity director Ashley Audrain.

Hosseini's first two novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, sold more than 38 million copies around the world. The former also spawned a highly-rated movie, directed by Marc Forster, in 2007.

"They're the kind of books you just couldn't stop talking about when you finished reading them," Audrain said. "With And The Mountains Echoed, we knew that would be the same...It's that epic, sweeping book you just can't stop thinking about after you finish reading the last page."

Echoes of a novel

Each entry of the Echo Project includes a "page inspiration" button that explains the reasoning behind each interpretation and displays the relevant passage from the novel. So far, the first 16 pages of And The Mountains Echoed are reflected through contributions from Hosseini, the book's editors and Dare, the agency hired to bring the initiative to life.

Now, the project is opening up to readers: submit an idea and you could see your response to join the growing digital companion book, which is building towards 402 pages in total.

'It's such a richer experience when people get involved'

-- Dare's Paul Little

Book-lover Andrea Modolo thinks it's a great way to experience a book since readers can share ideas and analysis in a way other than through social media.

"I love being able to talk about books with people and see what they got from a reading, compared to what I will see when I read it," she said.

The goal was to create something innovative and with longevity, says Paul Little, Dare's executive creative director. So far, there's no defined release schedule for additional pages — a move aimed at developing a fluid conversation between readers, bloggers, artists and others submitting interpretations and the designers putting their ideas onto the (digital) page.

"It's really a digital platform we've created for this book that almost has a physical presence above and beyond the novel," he said. "It's such a richer experience when people get involved."

And if the contributions dwindle, the project will still continue, Little says.

"We're still creating a ton of the content and will continue to do so," he assured.

The Echo ProjectWith the first 16 pages taken care of, the Echo Project is now calling on readers to submit their interpretations of passages from And the Mountains Echoed. (Dare/Penguin Canada)

— by Julia Whalen

Tags: And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini, The Echo Project, user-generated content

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