Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 384
Edition: Hardcover

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


Lotus Reads said...

You write some incredible reviews, Chitts! I have heard some amazing things about Hosseini's latest offering and I can't wait to chomp down on it, I have to bide my time though, because I have atleast 3 other books I need to read before I can get to it. You know, he was supposed to have been in Toronto for an evening organized by Penguin Press and I had front row tickets, unfortunately he had to cancel because of some illness in his family.

Thank you for posting your thoughts on what seems to be an outstanding piece of writing. I will return here after I read the book.

karmic said...

Thank you for your review. I have to read kite runner before I read this book.

People who hardly read books have read kite runner and loved it, so I am curious about both these books.

Kelly said...

I am really looking forward to reading this one.

Jira said...

Cool blog C! Loved the last line "aching for more!"....
One thing is for sure..I'm gonna be visiting this closet more often to pick out great reads!!

Radha said...

I so want to get this book! Especially after the 5/5 rating from you now!

Women are always the worst hit people when it comes to situations of chaos such as the one created by the Taliban in Afghanistan. And a story from a woamn's point of view always makes for more interesting reading :)

Happy Reader said...

@Lotus - Thanks for the kind words! I can imagine how disappointing it would have been for you to miss the reading event. Ofcourse, it was an outstanding story and I would love to read your take on it. Pl do post your thoughts.
@Sanjay - Thanks for stopping by! I strongly urge you to read both of Hosseini's books. I remember how I persuaded my brother to read it (he is a very picky reader), and now Hossieni is one of his favorite authors.
@myutopia - Thanks for stopping by! It was a great read and I hope the book lives up to your expectations.
@jira - Thanks for your kind words!
@radha - I couldn't agree more. A male author writing from a female perspective could prove to be quite challenging and Hossieni has done an exceptional job. Please do read the book and let me know what you think.

Radha said...

Thats true...but have you noticed how some of the best stories about women have been written by men...anna karenina & madame bovary are the two biggest ones that come to my mind!

Anonymous said...

i had read 'the kite runner' and loved it... so i bought this book on the first day it was released...
and the book turned to be 5*.
too good and a must read i think too...

yves said...

Mmm... I haven't written a review on that one, which I've read, but somehow not gotten round to doing it!
But one about The kite runner, yes, if you'd like to tell me what you thought:
Thanks for any sharing of your ideas!