Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini enjoyed a phenomenal success with his debut novel 'A Kite Runner', an unforgettable story of two boys growing up in Kabul. It was published in 42 different languages and hovered on the NewYork Times Bestseller list for over 2 years. He derived the title for his latest novel from a 17th century poem "One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls." by Saib-e-Tabrizi in praise of Kabul. In 'A Thousand Splendid Suns', Hosseini depicts a searingly painful story of two Afghan women in a war torn Afghanistan. After languishing in the obscurity for many years, the hapless burqa-clad afghan women would find their voices in this deeply touching novel.
Part I - Mariam, referred by her mother as a 'harami' (bastard), is the illegitimate 15 year-old daughter of Jalil, a wealthy business man and cinema house owner in Herat. She grows up with her mother in a 'kolba', built by Jalil and his sons on the outskirts of the city. Jalil lives with his 3 wives and nine legitimate children and his family is a forbidden territory to Mariam and her mother. Mariam adores her father and his visit on every Thursday, but she fervently wishes to be a part of his family. One day she leaves the kolba to find Jalil, but she was sent back forcefully after spending a sleepless night outside his house. In a feeling of utter desolation, Mariam's mother hangs herself in a tree and Jalil is left with no choice but to take Mariam back home. She is soon married off to Rasheed, a shoe-maker in Kabul.
Part II - Laila, the young daughter of university-educated teacher, grows up in the same neighborhood of Kabul. She falls in love with Tariq, a one-legged boy, who is determined to marry her. However, the Afghan war throws her in the streets of Kabul, destitute and orphan. Due to a tumultuous change of events, she too gets married to Rasheed.
The desolate lives of Mariam and Laila in the hands of Rasheed and the unexpected twists and turns of fate brought into their world forms the rest of the story.
Afghanistan has had a troubled past and women never had the freedom they longed for. They always adhered to rules, never left home without a man, wore a burqa at all times, and never questioned authority. The oppressed lives of the afghan women during the Taliban regime has been portrayed in this book through the story of Mariam and Laila. These women succumbed to brutality day after day wishing it would end soon. Several chapters in this book are devoted to the monstrous cruelty these women were subjected to and I had to clench my fists, grit my teeth and choke back my tears to get through the pages. I practically devoured the book as soon as it arrived on my hands and the emotional journey I traversed was almost unbearable. Not too often does one come across a book as emotionally powerful as this one and it left me aching for more!
My Rating: 5/5