A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan s last thirty years from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post Taliban rebuilding that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness are inextricable from the history playing out around themPropelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship It is a striking, heart wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love a stunning accomplishment front flap A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini It is his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner Mariam is an illegitimate child, and suffers from both the stigma surrounding her birth along with the abuse she faces throughout her marriage Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini It is his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner Mariam is an illegitimate child, and suffers from both the stigma surrounding her birth along with the abuse she faces throughout her marriage Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam s husband 2007 2008 1386 461 9789647425384 21 1387 488 9789648155297 1386 451 9789648831879 1387 1388 1389 1393 428 9786005205503 1394 407 9786009484492 1386 464 9789641740070 1387 1386 433 9789643623920 1389 487 9789642911158 1386 447 9789642981038 1389 320 9789642569939 1386 432 9789643285623 This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here For the last two months I have been putting off reading this book For starters, I bought the book at an airport in Taiwan, which meant it didn t have a due date which meant it took a backseat to many books that I didn t have the luxury of reading whenever.Additionally, because I ve heard so much about this book already, I almost didn t want to read it at all I ve heard that it s depressing, that it s not as good as The Kite Runner, and that it s basically a novel about the brutal treatment of For the last two months I have been putting off reading this book For starters, I bought the book at an airport in Taiwan, which meant it didn t have a due date which meant it took a backseat to many books that I didn t have the luxury of reading whenever.Additionally, because I ve heard so much about this book already, I almost didn t want to read it at all I ve heard that it s depressing, that it s not as good as The Kite Runner, and that it s basically a novel about the brutal treatment of women in Afghanistan.You know when you read a book or see a film that has had great reviews and you finish feeling disappointed because it didn t live up to the hype My experience reading this book was the complete opposite I loved it I didn t feel the message of the book was one of brutality or depression, but of hope and the toughness of the human spirit.There are plenty of awful scenes to lend credence to its reputation While the story s time frame spans thirty years, the main focus of the novel are two woman, a generation apart, whose lives cross as they become the wives of the same man, Rasheed The elder, Mariam, was born to a servant woman out of wedlock and is raised in banishment, ignorance and eventual rejection during the years the Afghani government was controlled by the communists She finds herself forced to marry a much older man after her mother commits suicide Laila, fifteen years younger and raised by intellectual parents, enters the marriage under much different circumstances Alone after a bomb destroys her home and kills her parents, and pregnant by her childhood love who has fled the country, she marries Rasheed in a desperate attempt to save her unborn child.The writing engrossed me Much like the Kite Runner, Hosseini magically puts the reader in the city, neighborhood and house of his characters Much to his credit, I found myself torn between wanting to yell at Laila to hush up, so that she d avoid another beating, and kicking Rasheed myself, because he is a despicable brute.Mariam, one of the most tragic characters in literature, makes this book what it is a story of love and strenghth She, who didn t have an easy day in her life, allows herself to be touched by the love of Laila and her children In return, she performs the ultimate act of love and saves a family.I appreciate Hosseini s portrayal of a part of the world that is under so much scrutiny lately Afghanistan, and the city of Kabul where the story takes place, have a long history of wars and occupations which result in a great chasm between different ethnic tribes, Islam, economic classes and gender Hosseini uses this novel to tell the story of Afghani women and the hardships that face them with each regime change.As a woman, I feel blessed to have been given confidence and opportunities I truly cannot imagine what it would be like to live under the conditions the women in this book live under I am grateful to be born to the family I was born to and in a country which allows me to live the kind of life I choose.Miram and Laila didn t have the opportunities or support that I have And yet they survived They endured and they reached out to others, despite their circumstances In this, Hosseini redeems all of Afghanistan by showing these two women s humanity He shows that in a place whose beauty was written about in a 17th century poem, where One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs and the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls is a city that can become illuminated once again August 2007I was riding in a cab in Bombay recently, and a bookseller on foot approached me at a traffic light with a stack of books I did my best not to look at the boy, but I couldn t help it He was waving several books in my face and something caught my eye I thought my glance was discreet, but he saw me look and it was game over The light turned green right then and the boy starts running with the cab yelling Memsahib Memsahib We re picking up speed I m so scared he s going to g August 2007I was riding in a cab in Bombay recently, and a bookseller on foot approached me at a traffic light with a stack of books I did my best not to look at the boy, but I couldn t help it He was waving several books in my face and something caught my eye I thought my glance was discreet, but he saw me look and it was game over The light turned green right then and the boy starts running with the cab yelling Memsahib Memsahib We re picking up speed I m so scared he s going to get his foot runover so I grab whatever I could from my wallet and somehow get it into his hands In return he tosses a random book at me through the window as he s getting further further away from the cab I look to see what I ended up with It was A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I was planning on buying anyways The cab driver asked me how much I ended up giving the boy A hundred and fifty rupees, I said, which is barely 4 The cab driver says in return, You paid a hundred rupees too much Hardly, I thought to myself That boy worked his butt off The best part is because the book is bootlegged it s full of typos and random fonts Love it In case I ever discuss the book with you and my recollection of the story is completely different from what you read, you ll know why.January 2008Read the book on my way to Vietnam a few days ago Loved it, although it was missing a few pages here and there Coincidentally, the friend I m traveling with brought the same book on our trip so I had access to the missing pages And another coincidence our Mekong Delta guide was carrying a copy of the Kite Runner We were like some sort of Hosseini fanclub floating down the Mekong in our longboathaha I have a few thoughts on this book, I ll write them out indetail soon I m heading back to Bombay in a few daysmaybe I ll run into another bookseller on foot Like diamonds and roses hidden under bomb rubble, this is a story of intense beauty and strength buried under the surface of the cruel and capricious life imposed upon two Afghani womenShe remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she d said HowLike diamonds and roses hidden under bomb rubble, this is a story of intense beauty and strength buried under the surface of the cruel and capricious life imposed upon two Afghani womenShe remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she d said How quietly we endure all that falls upon us Staggeringly beautiful and deep and rich and sad and frightening and infuriating There s a lot I want to say about this book and so I cry your pardon if this review is a bit of a rambler You should definitely read this book I ll probably repeat this again, but I want to make sure I don t forget to say it Buy the book and read it I love good historical fiction, especially when set in places and or periods of which I am not very familiar Afghanistan certainly fit that description, which makes me feel a significant amount of personal shame given how intertwined the country has been with the history of the U.S over the last 30 years That same time frame is also the primary focus of the novel so I feel like I got a real taste of the history of this mysterious time That said, the historical events described in the novel are merely spice for the narrative and are clearly not the entr e at this literary feast However, I would likely recommend this book for the historical component alone even if I didn t like the rest of the novel oh, but I did so much like the rest of the novel The story revolves around two women, Mariam and Laila, born 20 years apart, but whose lives are intertwined through the events of the novel Mariam born in 1959 is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy merchant named Jalil who has 3 wives and 9 legitimate children Mariam s mother, Nana, was a servant in Jalil s house whose affair with Jalil resulted in Mariam As you might expect, the 3 wives were less than enthused and Nana and Mariam were forced to live on the outskirts of town, making Nana a bitter often cruel person to Mariam The other main character is Laila born in 1978 who lives in the same area as Mariam Laila s story begins with her close friendship with a boy named Tariq who loses a leg to a Soviet land mine when he s 5 years old Years later, with Kabul under constant rocket attacks, Laila s family decides to leave the city During an emotional farewell, Laila and Tariq make love Later, as her family is preparing to depart Kabul, a rocket kills her parents and severely injures Laila I don t want to spoil the plot by giving away too many details, so let me just say that through a series of mostly tragic circumstances, Mariam and Laila both end up married to a serious scumbag named Rasheed I want to clarify that last remark because I think it goes to the most chilling aspect of the novel for me One of the novel s primary strengths is the bright light the author shines on the nasty way women are treated in countries like Afghanistan Now not being knowledgeable enough about the culture to make a well informed analysis, I strongly suspect that the character of Rasheed, while made somewhat worse for dramatic effect, is close enough to what was the norm as to be positively sickening Thus, when I say scumbag which I whole heartedly mean , part of the emotional impact of Rasheed s actions came from my not seeing them as cartoonish, but as part of an institutional evil that was all too common Bottom line, Rasheed is an ignorant, mean spirited, petty little pile of assbarf who will make even the most serene and passive reader feel like loading the.45 with hollow points and performing a gunpowder enema on his sorry, wretched chair cushion Anyway, once Mariam and Laila find themselves together, the story deepens as these two women slowly learn first to live with each other and later to depend upon each other as they face almost daily challenges, mostly from their abusive husband She lived in fear of his shifting moods, his volatile temperament, his insistence on steering even mundane exchanges down a confrontational path that, on occasion, he would resolve with punches, slaps, kicks, and sometimes try to make amends for with polluted apologies, and sometimes notThe lives of these women is an epic journey in every sense of the word and I felt like I was on a journey of my own as I road along with them While there is much of darkness and pain throughout the book, Hosseini never allows the emotional tone of the story to descend in melodrama There is little self pity or wallowing in grief There is pain, there is loss but there is no surrender Instead, these women absorb tremendous blows both figuratively and literally and continue to live There is a great passage near the end of the book that I am going to hide with a spoiler because it reveals the final fate of one of the characters, but it is simply a perfect summation of the strength and dignity that is the heart of this story view spoilerMariam wished for so much in those final moments Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident A weed And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian A mother A person of consequence at last No It was not so bad, Mariam thought, that she should die this way Not so bad This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings hide spoiler This is a gorgeous, beautiful story that is made all theso by its tremendous importance Read it.you will be happy you did 5.0 Stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION P.S I listened to the audio version of this as read by Atossa Leoni and she was brilliant If you listen to audio books, this is definitely one where the narrator enhances the experience of the novel