A Thousand Splendid Suns is the second novel by Khaled Hosseini after the hugely successful kite runner. This also set in Afghanistan. Unlike Kite runner, this whole story takes place in Afghanistan during the turbulent political changes.
This novel portrays the life of two different women from a complete different background and whose life crossed each other in the Taliban reign.
In Kite runner, Khaled hosseini told us the good old days of Afghan and all the good things about it and some glimpse of Taliban’s Afghan. Here, in thousand splendid suns, it is the vice versa. He had told a little bit of story in Afghan’s good old days, and then there comes Soviet reign, then the warlords, the Taliban and finally the present government and its reforms.
Story of Mariam and Laila and their struggles being women in the time of warlords and the Taliban are exposed very well. When I read Kite Runners, I thought, Hosseini being in the political Asylum in US described only one side – cruel – of soviet army. But in this he proved it is purely based on the narrator’s point of view.
In this novel, he described the positives of the Soviet reign, mainly the women freedom. The difference is superbly told in a single character, the teacher of Laila.
But in some places I did not like the novel as it is going very much like the mega serials of nowadays where the female leads are kept on weeping. A cruel husband and innocent wife are the characters that are too common for Indians, aren’t they?
I liked the way he told the story. Though both the characters are in same place most of the time, half the time the story travelled in the view of Laila and half the time in Mariam’s view, but whole novel set in the third person not the first person view like kite runner.
Also, in some places where he uses Farsi words, he just let it be, never bothered about giving the meaning of those words. In my view, it is ok to use other languages when u find it is more appropriate, but better to give somewhat meaning every time I hate to search in google to find the meaning.
As a story teller, Khaled Hosseini stands out. He could easily makes you emotional in few final chapters. He is simply superb and he makes you believe everything he tells. You never think the story is fictional or dramatic. But of course, as I told already, he could have avoided some repetition of husband torturing wife chapters. I found these things are just repeating in many places where we could easily guess this is going to follow in many places.
If you liked the emotional bonding between Amir and Hassan in Kite runner, you would definitely like the bonding between Laila and Mariam. The previous one is of friendship and this one is of mother-daughter like. I would say it is a good read except for some of the stereotypic chapters. The final chapters are as emotional as the kite runner’s last few chapters. Also the novel can be described as fictional account of Afghanistan’s history in the turbulent three/four decades.
My Rating for this book ★★★★☆
It is about a story of a young Afghan boy, his childhood, his account of soviet invasion, US life. I start reading this book after a lot of people telling me this book is too good and thankfully they were all correct. It is indeed a wonderful book.
Main thing I liked was the part of the childhood age, the period when the kites were flying freely in Afghan. Before reading this book, I had never imagined Afghanistan as a normal country just like any other where people have freedom. Whenever I heard of Afghanistan, the image of Taliban, bomb blast and the burkha clad women were the only objects in appear in the mind.
But this novel changed all. A period when even Afghan people enjoyed the life just like rest of the world (rather rest of the world I knew). The friendship between Amir and Hassan, their childhood fantasies, etc all were penned beautifully.
And when I thought it’s a feel good story, there came the twist, the betrayal, the defeat of afghan government and the departure.
The account of Taliban tortures in Afghan filed perfectly that whoever reads it, would feel the pain their people suffering. The beauty of the novel is the same book covers the wonderful, happier days as well as the darkest days of the country so that you can see the difference between those two and could feel the their people’s worry about their country.
The attractiveness of Kabul and Wasir Akbar Khan district was well accounted as well the weariness of the same place at the Taliban region when Amir returns. The friendship developed between Amir and the driver, Farid, who gets Amir back to Afghan and encounter with Farid’s brother’s family all are nice little parts.
In the part of childhood, the part which is the best as per me, the author makes us feel go back to our own childhood. Everything he wrote is in the view of a kid’s mind nothing tells you that it was written by an author who was already 40. Seeing his father as a hero, longing for some pure love from his father, jealousy on the other boy who gets the same treatment from his father, everything makes you believe the narrator was a 13yr old boy.
His account of discrimination directed at the Hazara Muslim Community is something you would hardly expect from a man from the Pashtun Community which was actually discriminated them.
The life of Afghan refugees in the US and Amir’s father’s pride as an afghan never-fading even as a refugee were well accounted so as the little love portion between Amir and his future wife.
A nice poetic ending added it to all. When I finished reading this novel, the immediate thought in my mind was the happiness for not missing this wonderful novel.
My rating for this book is ★★★★★