A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini -- Book Review

"Seasons had come and gone; presidents in Kabul had been inaugurated and murdered; an empire had been defeated; old wars had ended and new ones had broken out. But Mariam had hardly noticed, hardly cared. She had passed these years in a distant corner of her mind. A dry, barren field, out beyond wish and lament, beyond dream and disillusionment. There, the future did not matter. And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. And whenever those twin poisonous flowers began to sprout in the parched land of that field, Mariam uprooted them. She uprooted them and ditched them before they took hold."
I don't want to be presumptuous. I don't want project my own ignorance on whomever stumbles upon this post. So, I will only say that, as a well-read, well-informed citizen, I thought I knew, if not all the details, at least the gist of the situation in Afghanistan. I watch Anderson Cooper. I saw Charlie Wilson's War. But this book offers a timely perspective on a war that had been going on long before we got involved, a war many Americans don't realize we are still fighting.

Set primarily in Kabul, A Thousand Splendid Suns spans 30 years of Afghan history, following the unlikely friendship between two very different women, Mariam and Laila, brought together by mutual fear, grief and pure necessity.

What I found most striking about this book was the lack of sanctuary. Mariam and Laila live in an Islamic world, but even surrounded by prayer and mosques, they have no peace and no rest. Not only do they live in a war-torn country, where at any moment a bomb could fall on their home or a sniper could use them as target practice, the women are married to an abusive husband who takes out his anger, frustration, even boredom on his wives.

The story is at once foreign and familiar, as it explores not only how much one person can endure, but also the meaning of home when your country has been destroyed by decades of war.

Below, Hosseini talks about his inspiration for A Thousand Splendid Suns, and his journey to becoming a renowned author:

Have you read it? Do you plan to? Let me know what you think--leave a comment!

Buy A Thousand Splendid Suns on Amazon.com


Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorite books from last year. I was amazed by the book and couldn't put it down. Hosseini is a fantastic author and I can't wait for what he puts out next.

Teddy Rose said...

Great review Meg. I really liked the Kite Runner and have this one on my TBR.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to congratulate you on your first book of 2009. I can't believe how quick you all are! I am still reading my first one. ;)

Great review!

Kelly said...

I really liked this book too, even though parts were so disturbing. Your review is wonderful and I look forward to more.

Jo-Jo said...

What a good review...I plan on reading this one with my book club in a couple of months. It's amazing the things that we learn about other cultures through books.

Sandra said...

Great book, great review. I like Splendid Suns at least as much as The Kite Runner, for very different reasons of course. I hear Hosseini in an interview when Suns was released say that he wanted to show what life could be and often was like for women in Aghanistan.
Bravo for him and thank you for reviewing it.

ANovelMenagerie said...

I can't wait to read this one. It's in my book club this year.

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