Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

TitleA Thousand Splendid Suns
AuthorKhaled Hosseini
Tagsfirction, Afghanistan, women
Your reviewThis was my bookclub's read for Feb. 2008. Hosseini's second novel is set in Afghanistan, and is about two women, Mariam and Laila. It starts about the time the Soviets invaded Afghanistan until the early 2000s. Mariam is illegitimate, but sees her father once a week when he comes to visit. He has three wives and nine children at home, but she loves him fiercely, though her dour mother is less kind to him. But when Mariam wants to live with her father, he turns away from her, but her mother, afraid of being alone, commits suicide. Mariam is hastily married to a cobbler in Kabul, a country away from her native Herat. Her marriage starts out tolerable, but gets less so as her many miscarriages make her chances of giving her husband a son unlikely.

Laila is the daughter of Mariam's neighbors. She loves Tariq, a neighborhood boy who lost a leg to a Soviet bomb. As the country is torn apart by one war after another, she loses him, and is taken in by Mariam's husband, whom she marries. Laila has a child, then four years later finally the son so desired by the husband.

The husband's brutality is mirrored in the brutality of a land torn by so many years of war. In the end there is at least the hope of happiness for some, as there was in the Kite Runner.

Another strongly moving book. On odd days I find The Kite Runner the better book, on even days I prefer A Thousand Splendid Suns. On all days I celebrate that these books have sold so well, and give such a moving picture of life in another country, culture, and religion than our own.
PublicationRiverhead (2007), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication date2007
ISBN1594489505 / 9781594489501

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