Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Release Date: May 22, 2007
Genre: Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Challenge: Countdown Challenge
Rating: 5 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years — from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding — that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives — the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness — are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love — a stunning accomplishment.
I’ve had Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns on my Sony Reader [review] for awhile now, but I hadn’t ever gotten around to reading it. I don’t really enjoy reading e-books around the house, so it’s reserved for trips only. I finally felt compelled to start it on my flight down to Tampa for the holidays. Unfortunately, between talking with my husband and the excitement over Christmas (we were flying Christmas morning), I only got about 50 pages in. I barely got any time to read while I was there until the last day, and ended up devouring the novel on the flight home.
First of all, Khaled Hosseini’s writing is beautiful. I first admired it in The Kite Runner and am glad to see he has remained consistent. Even when he is describing the ugliest of scenes, his storytelling is gentle and smooth. His words flow like water and are an absolute joy to read.
Though I’ve heard the opposite from most other people, I actually enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns just as much, if not more, than The Kite Runner. The story is basically a glimpse at the plight of women under decades of hardships in Afghanistan. First there was the Soviet invasion and the subsequent Communist rule, which was actually beneficial to women. Their insistence on equality ensured that girls were educated along with the boys. When the mujahadeen overthrew the Communists, life became much harder for women. Girls were no longer allowed in schools. However, it was under the Taliban that the plight of women really became a nightmare. Hosseini takes the time to spell out the rules of living under the Taliban, making it real for the reader. Living in the United States, it is so difficult to comprehend how bad life was for women under Taliban rule. After the American invasion, freedom began creeping back into Afghanistan and people began to relax – but there is always that looming threat that the Taliban are regrouping and will one day return.
The characters in the novel are wonderfully written. We see through the eyes of multiple women and feel each of their hurts, each of their scars. While the writing makes the book easy to read, the content sometimes is not. A Thousand Splendid Suns is definitely heartbreaking. Reading on the plane, I found it difficult to keep tears from spilling as I read the stories of Mariam and Laila, the two main characters of the novel.
I can’t recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns highly enough. Hosseini has created a masterpiece that anyone can appreciate. It’s a novel that will stay with me for a long time.