A Thousand Splendid Suns

Cover - The Kite RunnerThose who have read ‘The Kite Runner’ will agree with me on the exceptional storytelling abilities of Khaled Hosseini. In ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ Hosseini does a role reversal. This time it’s a female protogonist, rather two of them. If ‘The Kite Runner’ was about finding peace outside Afghanistan, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is all about finding hope in a war ravaged country.

The beauty of Hosseini’s writing lies in his characters. Although both his books are different, still their characters are a lot similar. They all look real! The Amir of ‘The Kite Runner’ is now Laila and Hasan’s place is taken over by Maryam. The characters, like in the previous book, show their inner strength in difficult times. And it’s this style of story writing which sets Hosseini apart from the league.

As I started reading the novel I thought ‘The Kite Runner’ was better. It’s only when the narrative starts to unfold, in the typical ‘Hosseini’ way, that you realise it’s another classic in the making. Set against the backdrop of a country constantly at war (first the war-lords against the Soviets and then against each other), it revolves around the lives of two women. How the constantly changing political situation brings both uncertainty and hope in their lives. And how two ordinary women display exemplary courage is what it’s all about. Anything more and I’m spilling the beans here.

There are times when you feel like giving reading a break, so powerful are the emotions generated by the novel. I did shed a few tears during ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ was no exception either. The author has left no stone unturned in highlighting the plight of women in a Taliban governed Afghanistan.

You could actually feel the pain and suffering that Laila and Maryam go through, both, during the times of the Soviets and when Taliban took over. But inspite of all the difficulties around there’s always an undercurrent of hope in Hosseini’s writing, and it shows in his charaters. That’s something you can always expect from an Afghan!

Khaled Hosseini’s new book is an ode to the undying spirit of the people of Afghanistan in general and women in particular. This one too, like its predecessor, is not going off the shelf any time soon.

Published by

Inam Abidi Amrohvi

Inam is an independent writer based in Dubai who also edits www.theothernews.in. He comes from Lucknow. Inam blogs at The World As I See It.

14 thoughts on “A Thousand Splendid Suns”

  1. i actually loved the book and finished it in one sitting.

    Khaled, has great skills in narration and always creates fleshy characters….whom the readers from all class and age can connect with…..One of my female muslim friends said that she and her sister cried and couldnt bring themselves to finish the book.

    Khaled, does have the ability to put his emotions in writing as lucidly as he feels the,.

  2. Khaled Hosseini is undoubtably one of the gifted mortals walking the earth. The Kite Runner had spine chiling emotions that kept growing on you throughout. Every character was full of life and could be easily seen and felt.

    Cant wait to pick up a copy of “A thousand splendid suns” especially after reading your review.

  3. by far,i have found KHALED HOSSEINI as one of the finest and the brilliant of all the writers i have ever read.and so definitely..I can call THE KITE RUNNER and THE THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS as my favourites books..both of them touched my heart to the deepest core..each and every line had brought such inexplicable amazement to me..it even enhanced my knowledge about the predicament of women in Afghan..and to be more precise abt my liking,i was actly more touched and impressed by THE THOUSAND…..may be cos the protagonist is a female in it..:-)it infused such great positive energy and zest and optimism in me which is difficult to be explained in words..m extremely thankful to KHALED SAHAB for contributing such nice books to the society and m gladly looking forward to more such creations of his..

  4. Wow! Everybody seems to be all praise for both these books. Although I normally read only non fiction, I now think I need to read these books.

    It is good that somebody has come out with stories on these subjects and it would be interesting to read what he has to say.

  5. A wonderful book, that really is amazing for its ability to convey some of what it must have been like to live in Afghanistan between 1970-2001.

    I will say though that I found that the second half of the book lost a bit of its spontaneity, a bit of its verve. It became just a bit predictable in its form.

    That said, this is an incredible book with really strong believable characters and a seamless integration of history and story.

  6. An unforgetable experience, this is what one may call “A Thousand and Splendid Suns”. Apparently,the novel belongs to the genre of Historical Novel. We see the catastrophic repurcurssions faced by the Afghan nation in the last century. The history did affect the lives of the characters living in the book. Their fate was actually in the hands of the society as well as the foreign invaders, if one may say so. The civil war outbreaks every now and then, and the extremism, here in the name of the most peaceloving religion, squeezes the energies of the nation brutally. The situation can be rightly termed as pathetic and helpless.

    The book came to me as a birthday present by a dear friend. The friend had read “The Kite Runner”, Khaled Hosseni’s first book, and presented me with the second because she had a trust on the writer. I was to explore that trust. Secondly, Afghanistan and especially Kabul used to be inspirational. My parents went to kabul by road long before I was born. It was their one of the memorable experiences. This book actualy gave me an opportunity to be there. I mean this is what a book is for;one can travel and meet people without moving an inch.

    After sometime, one may feel that the situation is dragging and leading to no resolve, due to the circumstances. But the characters overcome such a reaction of the reader. Initially Mariam and then Laila appears fantastical characters raised in two different environments. But the fantacy vanishes as the characters are not round. They grow and proves themselves as living creatures simply made of flesh and blood. Their fate and destiny is marked with their bearing with the worst of the situations. Their lives change drastically with in very short time spans. There is occasional heartfelt tear-shedding. The stomach pangs are felt too, not to forget during their attempt to escape the brutality of Rasheed. The fear is also there when they were returned forcelfully from Pak-Afghan border to the mercy of Rasheed, their husband, their master, the antoginist. Mariam’s faith is strong towards the teachings of Holy Quran. It strengthens the note of hope in the novel as well as in the reader who is actually disappointed with the situations faced by these characters. The hope is not limited to the character of Marium. This is passed on to Laila as well. Laila’s Return to Afghanistan at the end reflects it clearly.
    Not only the characters create sympathy, we strongly feel for the entire nation. The nation seeing no stabilty but the worst of the times. While reading the novel the expository lines of “A Tale of Two Cities” echo alot.
    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of icreduality….it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..”

    Now i hope to read Khaled Hosseni’s first book soon.

  7. Hosseini is a fantastic writer

    Coming in February, 2009

    If you love “Splendid Sun” you will love “True American” a novel by Arthur McClen

    “True American”

    Thrust into war-ravaged Afghanistan, Zahir Nabi, an Afghan-American immigrant, and Christopher Stewart, an evangelical preacher, are forced to choose between forgiveness and justice.

    “True American is one of the most thought provoking, unpredictable, and moving stories I have ever read.”

    —Guile Branco, CEO, Bright Knight Entertainment

    In 1979, seven-year-old Christopher Stewart lived with his Christian fundamentalist family in Iowa. Thousands of miles away in Kabul, Afghanistan, seven-year-old Zahir Nabi lived a comfortable life with his fundamentalist Muslim family. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, both of the boy’s lives were set on a new course.

    As the communist army invaded, Zahir was forced to flee from his home. His family began a new life, in a strange city—a city straight from the action movies he watched in the Kabul cinema—Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Meanwhile, Christopher and his mom, Yvette, leave Iowa with a church group intent on converting the sinners in Las Vegas.

    Years later, Christopher and Zahir are thrust into the turmoil of war-ravaged Afghanistan after 9/11. The two must choose between the peace of finding forgiveness and the closure of justice.

    Arthur McClen is a screenwriter for the feature film “Under the Same Sky” (in production, http://www.imdb.com), featuring some of Hollywood’s best talent. He does most of his writing from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. McClen and his wife, Teresa, enjoy spending their time with their one-year-old granddaughter.

    Why purchase a copy of “True American”? Because it is rare to find such a moving story. Purchase your copy at http://www.amazon.com

    For more information email http://www.TimelessDestiny@live.com

  8. I read this book with great enthusiasm and was shocked by the brutality of life there as described within the pages. I cheered on the downtrodden characters and experienced feelings of contempt and fury at the bad guys. A most powerfully written novel which I devoured in less than a day. I sobbed uncontrollably several times. Congratulations on a profound piece of work.

  9. I have read both books by Hosseini (the first because of the hype and the second to confirm my opinion of his writing) and have been disappointed by both. As an editor, I feel the books are written for the masses only and lack the strength to captivate those looking for a rich story and language. I would put him in the same league as Sidney Sheldon, because of his only-for-the-masses writing style and the knowledge of when to tug at the emotional chord of the reader.

  10. I read this part again and again when tariq and laila get married it soo good but i get so so angry on rashid because he lie to laila and pay
    Someone and told her that he was dead i get so angry tariq and laila they would be so perfect they should get married when they could do that but when she found tariq and get married i was so happy but if they married when they was younger they could have it so goo d!but i read
    this again and again when they get married when they are a real fanily i am so happy when they get married and i love tariq when he was younger and i hate rashid but i love tariq when he was younger<3and i love tariq so much when he was younger<3and laila athousand splendidcsuns is the best book in the world<3<3<3

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