"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
or a thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls."
People who love, really love, books know how difficult it is to pick one book that you can call your favourite. I had faced a similar predicament until I read A Thousand Splendid Suns. Having read The Kite Runner by the same author earlier, I was assured of no disappointment. But after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was sure that I have found of the answer of that eternal question, “Which is your favourite book?”
With a war-torn Afghanistan in the background, the book narrates the story of two women, Mariam and Laila. Destiny’s cruel plan of things had plotted them against each other by making them the wives of a common man, Rasheed. But beyond the comprehensible hostility among the wives of a common husband, there lies a strong bond that ties them together. A bond of womanhood; a bond shared by common grief; a bond driven by undying hope even in the state of absolute hopelessness.
Hosseini’s description about Afghanistan is exceptional in all his books. The words seem to draw a portrait of the colourful country in the reader’s mind. And his narration of war that was forced upon his beloved country and its after-effect leaves you totally sad. There is a certain longing and helplessness strewn between the lines and you can feel the author’s love for his land. One could even read his books only to devour the presentation about Afghanistan.
If there is anything that is better than this, it’s his portrayal of characters. Prima facie, Mariam and Laila are the quintessential Afghan women. High-spirited within but on the outside, supressed by societal norms and extremist regime during war and thereafter. However, even the severe and almost inhuman suppression is not able to destroy their inimitable courage. Courage that was supposed to help them only to survive and suffer all atrocities, soon becomes the driving force that pulls them out of abject misery.
If I had to give you a reason (or two) to read A Thousand Splendid Suns, it would be Mariam and Laila. And if you want to know the real Afghanistan, not the one in ruins, read Khalid Hosseini’s books. Hosseini once said in an interview, “Literary fiction is kept alive by women.” I guess I am one of those.
About the Author: Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat in the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and history at a high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then their homeland had witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet Army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States, and in September 1980 moved to San Jose, California. In March 2001, while practicing medicine, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner. Published by Riverhead Books in 2003, that debut went on to become an international bestseller and beloved classic, sold in at least seventy countries and spending more than a hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. In May 2007, his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, remaining in that spot for fifteen weeks and nearly an entire year on the bestseller list. Together, the two books have sold more than 10 million copies in the United States and more than 38 million copies worldwide. The Kite Runner was adapted into a graphic novel of the same name in 2011. Hosseini’s much-awaited third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, was published on May 21, 2013. (Source: http://khaledhosseini.com/biography/)
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