A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

About the Author:

Khaled Hosseini ( March 4, 1965) is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician. After graduating from college, he worked as a doctor in California, a predicament that he likened to “an arranged marriage. He has published three novels, most notably his 2003 debut The Kite Runner, all of which are at least partially set in Afghanistan and feature an Afghan as a protagonist. Following the success of The Kite Runner he retired from medicine to write full-time.

Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. His father worked as a diplomat, and when Hosseini was 11 years old, the family moved to France; four years later, they applied for asylum in the United States, where he later became a citizen. Hosseini did not return to Afghanistan until 2001 at the age of 36, where he “felt like a tourist in [his] own country”. In interviews about the experience, he admitted to sometimes feeling survivor’s guilt for having been able to leave the country before the American invasion and subsequent wars.

All three of his novels became bestsellers: The Kite Runner (2003) spent 101 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list, four of them at number one. A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) was a Times Best Seller for 103 weeks, 15 at number one. And the Mountains Echoed (2013) debuted near the top of the Times list and remained on it for 33 weeks until January 2014.

Publication Year: 2007

Review:

‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ takes place over a course of a few decades against the backdrop of war-torn Afghanistan and revolves around the lives of two females. Mariam is an illegitimate child who lives a secluded life with her mother while Laila is born in a loving, caring family. Due to unfortunate circumstances, both women belonging to different generations are brought together; they find comfort in each other and find a way to survive the perils of the war.

After finishing the book, I was highly torn. Part of me really liked it but there’s another part of me that really wanted to love it as much as I loved The Kite Runner. But I just couldn’t bring myself to, and believe me when I say I really tried! It’s not the book, it’s me. First, I’ll list the things I liked. The plot was amazing. We get to experience the lives of people affected by the war and most importantly, the suffering that the women have to endure in an oppressive society.

The scenic descriptions in the book were beautiful. The writing is subtle and captures the themes of friendship, love, war, family, suffering, women’s rights. It’s narrated in the third person and focuses on the lives of two women Mariam and Laila who are forced to make painful decisions for themselves as they find themselves utterly powerless in the world. The story is based on the real events that happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over and severely restricted women’s rights.

She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.

The story is well written and depicts the sad reality of the situation. It really was difficult to continue reading due to the turmoil I experienced at the injustice faced by the women. However, the thing that bothered me at the end of the book is my inability to connect with the characters at all. Like don’t get me wrong, I did feel sad when I read about their miserable situation and got angry at the unfairness of it all but at the end, I didn’t feel that certain something that moved me.

I suspect it’s the manner with which the book is written. It’s like when you want to talk about a particular event that happened to you but instead of going into details, you just skim the surface and mention all the highlights. That’s how I felt about it. The writing was just so dry and detached that I couldn’t bring myself to really care about the characters. It’s probably not the book’s fault but my own. I’m not sure.

All in all, it was a nicely written war story if you’re looking for one.

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I'm an introvert, agnostic-atheist, insatiable reader, fitness enthusiast, daydreamer, music-lover, cat-adorer, eternal optimist with a touch of cynicism, curious soul, annoying preacher, OCD for cleanliness with a teeny affinity for messiness!

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