A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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
Pages: 372
Publication year: 2007

Award
2008 Richard&Judy Best Read of the Year [source: Galaxy British Book Awards]

First line
Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

Last line
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

[Reading Guide]

Fiction
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

Non-fiction
The Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


“For you, a thousand times over.”

Thought it’s about time for me to read this book, since everybody, and I mean everybody, has read it.

Great start. I was already teary on the first dozen of pages or so. Although after going further, I found myself sometimes on the brink of worry that the book would be too soap-opera like. It just seemed to be at the tip of being sad in a nice heartbreaking way, or cliche and cheesy. It could easily go one way or the other. But at the end though, I think I would give the book a break and forget about being too critical. I enjoyed it. It’s nice. It’s nice story about unfamiliar culture, family saga, in a land far far away. And it’s sad. It’s sad because you grow attached to the characters and care for them. When calamity happens, you feel for them.

I especially found the relationships between the men (and boys) in the story interesting. Father and son, master and servant, family, friends, brothers.. There’s certain intimacy that I thought doesn’t really exist among a lot of other cultures. They also seemed to be more comfortable at crying and showing affections between males. (and some people go to sickening extreme…)

What’s with all these sudden books about Kabul and Afganishtan? I’m halfway through Kabul Beauty School and I have Bookseller of Kabul on my shelf. I guess it’s because of the Taliban and all. I’m also definitely looking forward to read Hosseini’s next book: A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Pages: 324
Rating: 4 out of 5 [Very Good]
Interesting book, interesting characters, interesting setting and cultures, interesting subject matter.

First line

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.

Last line

I ran.

Suggested Further Reading by Bloomsbury

Fiction
Amber by Stephan Collishaw
By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah
The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif

Non-fiction
West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

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