A Thousand Splendid Suns is Khaled Hosseini’s second novel, the first being The Kite Runner, which I did read last year. If you loved The Kite Runner, you’d love this book. I think they are about the same level. In fact, I had some dejavu while reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. Both are set in Kabul around 1970s. Though this book tells more chronological events that happened in Afghanistan, the Soviet attack, the civil wars, the Taliban, US intervention, etc.
This book tells the story of two women. The first part tells the story of Mariam, a harami, illegitimate child. The second part, Laila, a child of an educated man, though defeated by the war, and a very sad mother. The book consists of 4 parts. Third part is when their paths meet.
Now I was a bit skeptical when I found out the story is told from two views. I’m not a fan of multiple perspectives in book. It makes me very aware that I’m reading fiction and makes the characters more distant too (since you have to divide your attention and care to more than one character). At the end I thought the double perspectives was okay. It’s probably necessary if you have two main characters and not one.
There are more things that made me very aware that I was reading fiction. I found some details were a bit unbelievable. Like how someone could be severely beaten and left without water or food for three days and still alive. How someone could be having a Caesarean section without anesthetic and still alive. But who knows, perhaps body of a human being could endure far worse than we imagine.
I thought the end was a bit too neat and too happy. Again, fiction. But hey, it’s informative and enjoyable (as a book). It provides some details and timeline about what happened in Afghanistan, about women’s life in that part of the world, their struggles and suffering as women. A good book for armchair traveller. I have teared up at some points in the book, though at some other points I thought it’s being overly melancholy or melodramatic. Well in many ways, A Thousand Splendid Suns invoked the same feelings I had for The Kite Runner. Some good, some bad, but the final tally is still pretty good.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Publication year: 2007
2008 Richard&Judy Best Read of the Year [source: Galaxy British Book Awards]
Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.
Because, if it’s a girl, Laila has already named her.
Also reviewed by
Books on the Brain | Blue Archipelago | Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage! | caribousmom | Lesley’s Book Nook | S. Krishna’s Books | Maw Books Blog | Devourer of Books | Trish’s Reading Nook | The Hidden Side of Leaf | Book Haven | Rhinoa’s Ramblings | So Many Books So Little Time | Books Lists Life | ReadingAdventures | The Inside Cover | Out of the Blue | The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness | bendaniel.org | Lost in Books | Semicolon | In the Shadow of Mt. TBR | Ticket to Anywhere | U Krakovianki (negative review) | The World as I see it | A Reader’s Journal | It’s All About Books! | Random Musings | Bookworms’ blog | Mind Over Matter | Musings
Suggested Further Reading by Bloomsbury
Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Married Woman by Manju Kapur
The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle
The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad