Friday, November 12, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns will touch your heart.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

This seems like too simple a statement for such a profound book, but then, the author himself using very simple and subtle language to convey these same profound ideas. Even when he talks about brutal violence and heart-breaking sadness in the midst of the turmoil in Afghanistan, he uses a tone that seems distant and even indifferent to the plight of his characters. Far from detracting from the book, however, this tone adds to the beauty of the book by touching the reader even more. This book - a documentary of the plight of Afghani women - is even more touching than Hosseini's wildly famous Kite Runner, and has the capacity to make even the sternest of hearts sympathize, and the more sympathetic ones cry. No matter who you are - young, or old, male or female, Indian or Afghani - this book cannot fail to move you.

This book is the story of two powerful women - Mariam, a plain illegitimate child who is married off to the cruel Rasheed at the tender age of 15 (when he is nearly 50), and Laila, a beautiful, vivacious, intelligent girl who dreams of becoming a teacher but eventually ends up married to Rasheed as well by a cruel twist of circumstances. The characters in this story are extremely well-etched. They are real, easy to identify with, and have beautiful interpersonal relations. As such, the dynamic interaction between these two characters, the unlikely bond that forms between Laila and Mariam, and the affection which they have for each other and their children, and finally the amazing sacrifices they make for each other, forms my favourite part of this book. Supporting characters like Tariq and Rasheed are also wonderfully portrayed and really support the story, but Laila and Mariam steal away the show.

Though a story about the cruelty and brutality of Afghan, the book does not fail to also emphasise the beauty of the place and what it means to those who live there. Even as they talk of the oppression by the Taliban (and the cruel, barbaric list of laws that they draw up for women, which I found ludicrous but which forms the reality of life for these women), the book is also about the culture in Kabul, and what damage has been done to it, and also about how it still survives after this. There is one line in particular in the book, a line by 17th-century Iranian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi about Kabul, which incidentally also serves the basis for the title of the book, "One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls"
- that haunts the reader not only till the last page of the book, but till a long time afterwards.

Final thoughts: A brilliant, beautiful, heart-breaking book on the struggle of Afghani women against the oppression of the Taliban and domestic oppression. A must-read for the subtle imagery, beautiful characterization, and well-written narrative.

23 comments:

  1. i'd read this book last year....totally awesome :) <3 :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. read kite runner recently. a good novel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. read kite runner recently. a good novel.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Aanal: I know. Its amazing.
    @Harish: I honestly liked this more than Kite Runner, and if you liked it you should definitely give this one a try.
    @@Abhinav: So true. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got lucky this July, since I was able to read the Kiterunner, and the Thousand Splendid Suns back to back. And without a doubt, I loved both of them. Brilliant books. Period!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun. :) I totally agree with you, both of them were brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for visiting. :) This book should be on everybody's wishlist. :D

    ReplyDelete
  8. One of my favorite authors, I have read this book thrice. Immensely heart warming, it comples you to shed a tear for the pilght of these poor hapless women. Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sakhi, I loved this review! Very very well written. I feel like reading this book, by the way u have expressed about it.

    RESTLESS

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Vadakkus: Wow! :) And thanks so much for the compliment.

    @Restless: Thanks so much! :) I'm sure you will love this book, do try it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Read the book sometime back. Loved it much more than the Kite Runner.The story of survival irrovacably entwined with the changing times in Afghanistan as the backdrop is awesome. Good Review !

    ReplyDelete
  12. @The Moon stone: I agree with you totally. Thanks for visiting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I loved his book "The Kite Runner", I will defntly pick this one.. thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very well written review! This book is splendid. Its heartbreaking yet beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  15. loved the review. it is vey well composed. i remember i read this one in the first year of my hostel life.i used to weep bitterly while reading and the gals around used to make fun of me, the ones who lack the pleasure of reading.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks so much Ria...I was crying and crying while reading this too!

    ReplyDelete
  17. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a strikingly beautiful story which follows the hardships of women in Afghanistan. One of the biggest issues in the story is the issue of gender in the Afghani culture. Mariam and Laila, the main female characters of the book, face constant hardships because of their gender. The book shows the oppression of these women as they struggle for survival in this harsh culture. They face constant physical abuse by their shared husband, Rasheed, as well as constant threats from the Taliban outside their door.

    ReplyDelete

Leave me a comment on one of my reviews! Please remember, differences of opinion are welcome, obnoxious flame wars are not.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails