The story of modern Afghanistan differs little from that nation's long history: war and war and war again as invading armies marched in to suffer defeat at the hands of tribesmen and geography. It is that region's misfortune to lie between glittering prizes desired by the world's tyrants and then, in wars' wake, to fall prey to religious zealotry. This compelling novel comprises the lives of two modern Afghani women shaped by the personal violence of sharia and the impersonal desecration of war. Khaled Hosseini has also delivered a tale of heroic loyalty and love that extend across miles and mountains and generations.
Along the way one gleans a good bit of information about the region's recent history and gains a South Asian perspective on the outside world which has supplied the armaments with which Pashtuns and Tajiks and the Northern Alliance and the Taliban have butchered each other of late. Hosseini's most telling achievement, however, is to give the reader a horrific picture of the cruelty and mindlessness of modern warfare and then exceed that horror in his depiction of marital brutality. No matter how ghastly the effect of rockets and land mines and Kalashnikovs, it is the battering and dehumanization endured by women and sanctioned by a religion and culture and law that will cut to your heart.
Long before Mariam was capable of even understanding the concept, she knew she was a "harami" - illegitimate and unwanted. Her impoverished, embittered mother, rejected by the wealthy Afghani business man who had fathered Mariam, spirals downward from disgust and hatred through mental illness to an eventual suicide. She spits the cruel, pejorative label into Mariam's face at every opportunity. Her sole remaining purpose in life is to have Mariam join her in the crushing belief that there … more
Even better than The Kite Runner!! There exists in this book, a powerful importance behind each and every detail that realistically describes a nation of oppressed women. The traditions of the country in reference to women are described intensely through the life on one powerful person, in particular. An important read for all people!!
His first book, Kite Runner, told such a horrific story that I was afraid to read his second book but I'm so glad I finally did. Also a story of hard lives, but with so much grace stemming from the relationship between the two lead women. Memorable, authentic, satisfying. Highly recommended.