"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini (Book Review and PDF)

A thousand splendid suns book image

Book Review

A thousand emotions rise with A thousand splendid suns.

Set during the Soviet's and the Taliban's occupations of Afghanistan, A Thousand splendid Suns depicts the lives of two women trying to survive, against all odds, in a war-torn society where females are marginalized.

The story therefore starts off heavy-handedly in this regard (albeit before the war), with Nana struggling to pass on the bitterness she habours against Mariam's father about the harsh realities that surrounds Mariam's birth.

She says to her one day: 

A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed, it won't stretch to make room for you. I'm the only one who loves you. I'm all you have in this world, Mariam, and when I'm gone you'll have nothing. You'll have nothing. You are nothing!

Nana was right. When she died, Mariam was eventually let down by her dear father, who (ashamed of her existence) marries her off to a much older shoemaker, an unrepentant abuser named Rasheed. 

Using the dual narrative technique, Khaled Hosseini does for Laila (the second protagonist) what he did for Mariam in a seamless transfer of emotions. 

Born five years after Mariam's arrival in Rasheed's house in Kabul, Laila - a girl with a seemingly bright future who lives on the same street as Mariam - lost everything and everyone she's ever loved to war within a period of fourteen years. The tragic turn of events forces her to become Rasheed's second wife.

What follows is a touching, harrowing story that would leave you stunned long after you have read it.

Much like the Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini conjures Afghanistan (Kabul) with so much intimacy that you feel you have sauntered its streets, breathe its air and lived through the war in the bodies of each of his characters. 

Although one-dimensional, the characters are well-formed and memorable - only that the emotional connection to them are largely evoked by tragedy. This fact, however, is dampened by the strong plot and the author's narrative brilliance, which makes the book a complete page-turner. 

But one has to be careful not to ruin the pages with tears.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, like The Kite Runner, encompasses the hardship suffered by people, families during a war that spanned three decades in Afghanistan. It is a story of true love, endless sacrifice, betrayal, hope, and all diminutive things you can relate with in a normal life setting. With this, it would have passed to be rated G. However, due to its graphic content, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under the age of 14.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Thousand Splendid Suns: Book Details

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction

First Publication: 2007

Language: English

Major Characters: Laila, Mariam, Rasheed, Tariq

Setting Place: Herat and Kabul, Afghanistan

Theme: Suffering and Perseverance, Shame and Reputation, Love, Loyalty, Feminism, Hope.

Narrative Technique: dual narrative third person POV

A Thousand splendid Suns: Memorable Quotes

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

 Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.

A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated...

Behind every trial and sorrow that He makes us shoulder, God has a reason.

She is the noor of my eyes and the sultan of my heart.
You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you have to see and feel.And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. And whenever those twin poisonous flowers began to sprout in the parched land of that field, Mariam uprooted them. She uprooted them and ditched them before they took hold.

A Thousand splendid Suns: PDF download

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