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A Thousand Splendid Suns

A book by Khaled Hosseini.

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Behind the burqa

  • Sep 2, 2008
  • by
Rating:
+5
With his second novel, Khaled Hosseini proves beyond a shadow of doubt that "The Kite Runner" was no flash in the Afghan pan. Once again set in Afghanistan, the story twists and turns its way through the turmoil and chaos that ensued following the fall of the monarchy in 1973, but focuses mainly on the lives of two women, thrown together by fate.

The story starts decades before the Taliban came into power in 1996, and ends after the era of Taliban rule. The main character begins life as a "harami" - the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man and one of his housekeepers. Forced to live in a small shack with her emotionally disturbed and possibly epileptic mother, Mariam lives for Thursdays, the day her father comes to see her, bearing small gifts and showering her with the affection she craves. Naturally, Mariam wants to be a part of her father's life and fit in with his legitimate family, but when she attempts to force his hand, she is rebuffed and feels betrayed by his reaction. Her impetuous actions bring an end to the life she has known for fifteen long years, and lead to an arranged marriage to a much older man, a shoemaker, whose views on the rights of women mirror those that the Taliban would soon enforce.

During the time that Mariam is dutifully enduring her unhappy marriage, a neighbor gives birth to a baby girl, whom they name Laila. By her ninth birthday, Laila has grown up to be a beautiful child with blonde hair, turquoise-green eyes, high cheekbones and dimples. Unfortunately, her mother lives only for the day her older sons will return home from fighting the jihad, and is consumed by the vision of a free Afghanistan. Laila's best friend is a boy named Tariq, her confidant, defender and co-conspirator, and by the end of communist rule in 1992, Laila is fourteen, and beginning to see Tariq in a different way that she does not quite understand.

The enthusiastic rejoicing at the end of the jihad is silenced by the internal battles of the Mujahideen, and when the bombs start falling on Kabul, Laila and Tariq are forced apart. Circumstances can make strange things happen, and Laila soon becomes a part of Mariam's husband's household, by necessity rather than choice. The rest of this unforgettable story reflects the heart-rending sacrifices of these women, and allows the reader a peek behind the burqa, to the heart of Afghanistan.

There are parts of this book that will have grown men surreptitiously blotting the tears that are on the verge of overflowing their ducts, and by the time you get to the middle, you won't be able to put it down. Hosseini's simple but richly descriptive prose makes for an engrossing read, and in my opinion, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is among the best I have ever read. This is definitely not one to be missed.

Amanda Richards

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More A Thousand Splendid Suns reviews
review by . January 10, 2010
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 …
review by . June 15, 2010
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!!
Quick Tip by . August 09, 2010
Good but so dismal and punchguts in mood it doesn't have a lot of re-read value to me. If I want to remind myself of Afghani women's difficult lives, I'll prefer real women's stories.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
I can't believe this book is so low rated. It was wonderful and sad. The true life story of a a woman's struggle in the middle east kept me riveted.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
The Kite Runner was definitely not a fluke! This guy can write! :) This book will make any American woman count her blessings while once again opening that curtain for us to peek into Afghan culture.
Quick Tip by . July 11, 2010
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.
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
This is one of my favorite books! Very sad but very good. Loved it!!!!
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Not as good as The Kite Runner, but still a good read. It portrays the hardships of females in Muslim countries.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
not as good as the original, but still a emotional, and vivid book about living in the middle east
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
I found it dull
About the reviewer
Amanda Richards ()
Ranked #41
I write reviews for a hobby. Most of my reviews are short and to the point, on account of my short attention span. I try to make my reviews both informative and entertaining, and sometimes I succeed. … more
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A Thousand Splendid Suns is the second novel by Afgan author Khaled Hosseini. Before its May 22, 2007 release, the book reached #2 on Amazon.com's bestseller list.
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Details

ISBN-10: 1594489505
ISBN-13: 978-1594489501
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: Riverhead

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