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A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Author: Khaled Hosseini

Published: June 1st 2007 by Riverhead Books (first published May 22nd 2007)

Format: Hardcover , U.S. Edition , 372 pages

Isbn: 9781594489501

Language: English


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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 swee 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 them. Propelled 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

30 review for A Thousand Splendid Suns

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anu

    August 2007 I 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 2007 I 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 2008 Read 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 longboat...haha). I have a few thoughts on this book, I'll write them out in more detail soon. I'm heading back to Bombay in a few days...maybe I'll run into another bookseller on foot :).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 women. She 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 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 women. She 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 entrée 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 not. The 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 spoiler)[ Mariam 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 the more so 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    It was a warm, sunny day in Montenegro and I was about to set out on a boat trip. I felt certain that a combination of sightseeing and the people I was with would keep me from having much time to read, but I packed a book anyway just in case there was time for a chapter or two in between stops. A Thousand Splendid Suns happened to be that book. And at the end of the day, when I staggered off that boat, blinking at my sudden exposure to reality, it wasn't because I'd been mesmerised by the stunni It was a warm, sunny day in Montenegro and I was about to set out on a boat trip. I felt certain that a combination of sightseeing and the people I was with would keep me from having much time to read, but I packed a book anyway just in case there was time for a chapter or two in between stops. A Thousand Splendid Suns happened to be that book. And at the end of the day, when I staggered off that boat, blinking at my sudden exposure to reality, it wasn't because I'd been mesmerised by the stunning architecture and history lessons, no, it was because Hosseini stomped all over my heart. I'm not even sure how I found enough hours in the day to take a boat trip around Montenegro and read this entire novel, but somehow I finished this in the few hours I had... simply because I had to. My initial reaction was a furious, teary promise to myself that I would have to give this book five stars - I think it's impossible for the mind to win a battle with the heart in that level of heat, especially when you're used to English weather. But afterwards, I managed to reclaim some of my sense and sanity, which is when I finally began to acknowledge this book's limitations. For one thing, I think it's extremely generous to place this book in the "literary fiction" category. I am certainly no book snob (give me a delicious page-turner over some pretentious waffle any day) but I find myself comparing A Thousand Splendid Suns to another book about a country and culture I was only vaguely familiar with - The Poisonwood Bible - a book which I also read on my trip. The latter is a far more complex, ambitious work that brings something which, to me, felt entirely fresh and original. Hosseini's story, on the other hand, is not groundbreaking and I recognise many of the scenes and characters from other books. What it is, however, is incredibly emotional, sad, uplifting, infuriating and memorable. It's lessons on the history of Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban might be basic but they are nothing if not compelling. I came away feeling like I learned something. What I did learn was truly horrifying, it painted details into the very vague images I already had in my mind that I had gotten from various British newspapers. But I also really liked the affection for his birth country that shines through Hosseini's story; his faith in the ultimate goodness of these people who witnessed society and order crumbling around them. The ultimate tragedy of this story, for me, is how everything could have been very different for Mariam and Laila if people had just acted a little faster, stopped worrying about their pride a little earlier, and trusted a little more. I really liked the range of emotions both women experienced and they way the author showed this. I know some readers thought it was wrong for Mariam to be jealous of Laila at first, but I actually really liked the complexity. Rasheed may be a bastard but he was the only thing in the world that she had at that point, and on some level it made sense to me that she would want to claim him for herself. While I believe Mariam and Laila experienced complex emotions and were well-developed, Rasheed did not get the same treatment - a fact which I'm torn about. On the one hand, I think Rasheed would have been a better character if he'd been developed beyond him being the most villainous villain in all villaindom. On the other hand, I think Rasheed's evil personality offers an important distinction between him and Jalil (and the other men), one which is needed in a book that looks at the cruelties women suffer at the hands of men. The difference between Rasheed and Jalil is important. The latter is a man who acts badly because his behaviour is shaped by the society he lives in. Rasheed, on the other hand, is a mean and violent brute who completely abuses the power handed to him as a man in this society. These differences between Rasheed, Jalil and the other men (Tariq, Laila's dad, etc.) show there is not one type of man in this society, that wife-beating is not simply a part of the culture, that even in a patriarchal society you can choose what type of man you want to be. I admit this is far from a perfect book, but it is a good book. It's a book that seems to swallow you whole but spit you back out in pieces. And, just to mention, I keep intending to read The Kite Runner again because I think studying it at school ruined it for me, but so far, I much prefer A Thousand Splendid Suns.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    It's apparently becoming something of a tradition for me to trash books that are not only widely loved and praised, but were specifically recommended to me by friends. Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splended Suns," I'm sorry to say, is going to get the same treatment. (Forgive me, Rose.) "Splendid Suns" has been so widely read by this point, I won't bother recounting the story, and instead simply list my objections: - Hosseini seems incapable of creating characters with much depth to them. E.M. Fo It's apparently becoming something of a tradition for me to trash books that are not only widely loved and praised, but were specifically recommended to me by friends. Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splended Suns," I'm sorry to say, is going to get the same treatment. (Forgive me, Rose.) "Splendid Suns" has been so widely read by this point, I won't bother recounting the story, and instead simply list my objections: - Hosseini seems incapable of creating characters with much depth to them. E.M. Forster, in "Aspects of the Novel," talks about books having round characters and flat characters, with round ones being more like people you'd encounter in the real world, and flat ones being more of caricatures used to move a book's story along. The only character in "Splendid Suns" who approaches roundness, and he's a relatively minor character, is Mariam's father, Jalil. Everyone else is either a villain without any positive traits (Rasheed) or a hero who can do almost no wrong (Laila, Tariq, Mullah Faizullah). Even when Hosseini is depicting a child who has every right to behave badly given his circumstances (Zalmai), he can't help but depict the child as almost evil. The New York Times review of "Splendid Suns" said Hosseini "creates characters who have the simplicity and primary-colored emotions of people in a fairy tale or fable." That's pretty generous of the New York Times. I'd say Hosseini may not be able to create three-dimensional characters. - While I appreciate Hosseini's attempt to teach a few decades of Afghan history -- a history few readers likely know in much detail -- grafting that history onto the story of one family makes for a rather creaky novel. To impart the history, Hosseini goes back and forth between giving the history through third-person narration, in Wikipedia-like prose, and putting it in his characers' mouths via dialogue -- dialogue often spoken to people who would already know the history. As a result, you sometimes get characters saying things like, "As you know, the Taliban forces men to grow their beards long and women to wear burkas." The cut-and-paste history lessons make the novel painful to read at times. - Hosseini routinely uses "harami" (bastard) and other words from the characters' native languages in his dialogue, followed by the English translation, apparently in an attempt to bring readers closer to the Afghan culture. But it usually feels incredibly superficial, especially when the words being used aren't foreign concepts, but rather basic words -- "brother," "sister" and the like. Hosseini and his editors also seem to forget about the trope, and cut back on the use of the foreign words in the book's later chapters. I wish they had done the same throughout the book. - The relationship between Mariam and Laila feels completely artificial. Mariam's initial hate for and jealousy of Laila never feels remotely justified, especially given how awful her husband Rasheed is anyhow, and their coming together later feels rushed and unrealistic. Even after they form a friendship, they never seem to grow quite close enough to fully explain why Laila misses Mariam so much towards the novel's conclusion. Hosseini fails to lay the groundwork needed to justify Laila's emotions in the novel's last chapters. - Almost the entire book is unrelentingly bleak. Don't get me wrong, I understand Afghanistan wasn't exactly Disneyland over the past few decades, but I think there were more lighthearted moments in the Book of Job than in "Splendid Suns." I don't mind reading a depressing novel, but Jesus. Reading "Splendid Suns," I kept thinking of that old workplace poster: "The beatings will continue until morale improves." I didn't completely hate "Splendid Suns" -- the story moved along nicely, and it gave me a little more insight into a culture I probably should know more about -- but I don't think I'll be following this one with "The Kite Runner." Khaled Hosseini probably doesn't need me as a reader, though. It seems he has plenty of fans.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Amazing! Heart-Wrenching! Important! In a world where people tend to make assumptions about people and places based on the news, preconceived notions, prejudice, etc., this book needs to be read. I think a good portion of the American population hears “Afghanistan” and they think it is a country full or terrorists and unreasonable Muslim extremists who all band together to plot the downfall of anyone not like them. A Thousand Splendid Suns shows the progression of life in Afghanistan from the Sovie Amazing! Heart-Wrenching! Important! In a world where people tend to make assumptions about people and places based on the news, preconceived notions, prejudice, etc., this book needs to be read. I think a good portion of the American population hears “Afghanistan” and they think it is a country full or terrorists and unreasonable Muslim extremists who all band together to plot the downfall of anyone not like them. A Thousand Splendid Suns shows the progression of life in Afghanistan from the Soviet takeover in 1980s through post 9/11 Taliban control. All of this is through the eyes of two women trying to live a normal and peaceful life just like anyone in the world wants. You will see that despite the extremists and unreasonable values of some, most of the Afghani people are no different than you and me. Hosseini is a fantastic writer. Not only is the story enthralling, but the way he writes is engaging and easy to follow. I was never bored or confused. When I was not reading the book, I was thinking about the book and could not wait to get back to it and find out what happens. Sometimes you find the perfect book where the writing just falls into place with a click – that happened with this one. While the story takes place far away and the life discussed unusual for me, he made it very approachable and understandable. The characters were great. The ones I was rooting for I was REALLY rooting for. The ones that I despised I REALLY hated. When I get this invested in the characters, it is a sure sign of a great book! I will end with this warning: while a great and interesting book, it is, at times, difficult to read. There are situations and scenarios that are upsetting and may trigger lots of emotion. If you are extremely sensitive, it may be difficult to make it through. But, if you can, I think it will be worth it in the end. If you have not read this book yet, I think you should give it a try. The experience is very likely to be eye-opening and maybe even life-changing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hend

    I have never cried while reading a book,like I Did while reading this one! It is the story of poor, uneducated women who have to endure the hardships of life... The horrors and terrors that a lot of women have gone through during certain period in Afghanistan, the war torn country ,and the narration through the lives of two women Mariam and Laila.. Going through All kinds of Physical abuse of hitting, kicking and slapping ,brutal beating ,etc…. Struggling the cruel extremely sadistic Rasheed, And s I have never cried while reading a book,like I Did while reading this one! It is the story of poor, uneducated women who have to endure the hardships of life... The horrors and terrors that a lot of women have gone through during certain period in Afghanistan, the war torn country ,and the narration through the lives of two women Mariam and Laila.. Going through All kinds of Physical abuse of hitting, kicking and slapping ,brutal beating ,etc…. Struggling the cruel extremely sadistic Rasheed, And suffering all kinds of violence and subjected to his shifting mood and volatile temper. Witnessing the ugliness of war, the fate of loved ones, grieving for lost lives. And sadly this is not exclusive to Afghan society only it is happening in many other countries The unhappy, abusive marriages, oppressive governments and repressive Cultural mores .. It finds its echo in varying forms, in differing degrees, through the different time periods, across the world. The end of the novel give some hope in its last scene after all the violent accidents ,with Laila's pregnancy, Kabul rebuilding, and a loving family reunion. “I know you're still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated. No chance.” Laila fulfilled her father’s dreams and he can rest in peace watching his brave daughter completing his path and teaching young Afghan children the true values and principles of Their social heritage and culture educating them how they could be good citizens in the future. In this critical age when personalities are shaped And what they learn will stay with them. And protecting them from falling in the hands of those who would mould them to absorb hatred ,violence and intolerance.

  8. 5 out of 5

    K

    To my editor: Khaled here. As I was reviewing my final draft of “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” some questions occurred to me. 1. Could I make the characters any less complex? Despite my efforts, I feel I haven’t fully achieved the one-dimensionality my readers seemed to love in “The Kite Runner.” Specifically, I’m afraid I may have given Rassan one or two potentially sympathetic moments early on despite his overall abusive personality (although I more than make up for it). I don’t know whether my rea To my editor: Khaled here. As I was reviewing my final draft of “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” some questions occurred to me. 1. Could I make the characters any less complex? Despite my efforts, I feel I haven’t fully achieved the one-dimensionality my readers seemed to love in “The Kite Runner.” Specifically, I’m afraid I may have given Rassan one or two potentially sympathetic moments early on despite his overall abusive personality (although I more than make up for it). I don’t know whether my readers can handle that level of complexity. Fortunately, aside from that minor lapse with Rassan, I think I managed to keep my characters and their relationships pretty simplistic, although there’s always room for improvement in that regard! 2. Do you think I included enough graphic violent scenes, or should I add another ten or so? 3. Are my characters stereotypical enough? 4. Pretty clever the way I stuffed the facts of recent Afghani history into my characters’ dialogue whenever I could, don’tcha think? 5. Speaking of dialogue, I’m wondering whether I can inject a little more of my agenda into the characters’ conversation or introspection, or maybe structure the plot around it a little more. Any ideas? 6. Isn’t it great that Afghanistan is such a hot topic that mediocre writers like me can make a buck by pandering to people’s intellectual pretensions? With hopes for another bestseller, Khaled

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini A 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 Hosseini A 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. با این عنوانها چاپ شده: یک: هزار خورشید درخشان؛ دو: هزار آفتاب شکفت انگیز؛ سه: هزار خورشید تابان؛ چهار: هزاران خورشید تابان؛ پنج: هزاران خورشید درخشان؛ شش: هزاران خورشید فروزان؛ هفت: هزار خورشید باشکوه؛ هشت: هزار خورشید رخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه فوریه سال 2007 میلادی و بار دیگر در ماه اکتبر سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: هزار خورشید درخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: بیتا کاظمی؛ تهران، باغ نو، 1386؛ در 461 ص؛ شابک: 9789647425384؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان افغانی امریکایی - سده 21 م عنوان: هزار خورشید رخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: زامیاد سعدوندیان؛ تهران، نگارستان کتاب، 1387؛ در 488 ص؛ شابک: 9789648155297؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: پریسا سلیمانزاده اردبیلی؛ زیبا گنجی؛ تهران، مروارید، 1386؛ در 451 ص؛ شابک: 9789648831879؛ چاپ دوم و سوم 1387؛ پنجم 1388؛ ششم 1389؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: آزاده شهپری؛ تهران، ماهابه، 1393؛ در 428 ص؛ شابک: 9786005205503؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: حمیدرضا بلوچ؛ تهران، به سخن، 1394؛ در 407 ص؛ شابک: 9786009484492؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید باشکوه؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: ایرج مثال آذر؛ تهران، در دانش بهمن، 1386؛ در 464 ص؛ شابک: 9789641740070؛ چاپ دوم 1387؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید باشکوه؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: ناهید سلامی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1386؛ در 433 ص؛ شابک: 9789643623920؛ عنوان: هزاران خورشید فروزان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: فیروزه مقدم (عابدی)؛ تهران، نشر تهران، 1389؛ در 487 ص؛ شابک: 9789642911158؛ عنوان: هزاران خورشید درخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: سمیه گنجی؛ ساری، زهره، 1386؛ در 447 ص؛ شابک: 9789642981038؛ عنوان: هزاران خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: مژگان احمدی؛ تهران، بهزاد، 1389؛ در 320 ص؛ شابک: 9789642569939؛ عنوان: هزاران آفتاب شگفت انگیز؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: منیژه شیخ جوادی (بهزاد)؛ تهران، پیکان، 1386؛ در 432 ص؛ شابک: 9789643285623؛ نام و عنوان این کتاب از این بیت برگرفته شده: «حساب مه جبینان لب بامش که میداند؟ دوصد خورشیدرو افتاده بر، هر پای دیوارش». بیت را «صائب تبریزی» در وصف «کابل» سروده است. نقل از متن کتاب: «جلیل با خنده برایش داستان «ملکه گوهرشاد» را تعریف میکرد، که مناره های مشهور هرات را در قرن پانزدهم، به عنوان چکامه ای از عشق خود به آن دیار بنا کرده بود، او برایش، از: گندمزارهای سبز هرات، و باغهای میوه، تاکستانهایی که آبستن شاخه های پربار انگور بودند، بازارهای پر ازدحام و شلوغ با سقفهای بلند و محرابی شان گفته بود. یک روز جلیل گفت: یک درخت پسته هست «مریم» جان، که زیر آن کسی جز «جامی»، شاعر بزرگ نخوابیده است، پس از آن جلیل خم شد و زمزمه کرد: جامی پانصد سال پیش زندگی میکرد. بله. یکبار ترا به آنجا برده ام، پیش آن درخت، اما تو کوچک بودی و یادت نمیآید». پایان نقل از متن. ا. شربیانی

  10. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    This novel is about two wonderful, brave , intelligent and resolute women Mariam and Laila their optimistic dreams, aspirations, boundless love... yet dehumanized in perilous, merciless, Afghanistan... continually suffering degradation during the tumultuous years in the long, sad history of that troubled, war ravished nation, Mariam born out of wedlock in Herat, to a wealthy man, lecherous Jalil and Nana, she was a maid at his house, he had already three wives and soon ten other children, sent t This novel is about two wonderful, brave , intelligent and resolute women Mariam and Laila their optimistic dreams, aspirations, boundless love... yet dehumanized in perilous, merciless, Afghanistan... continually suffering degradation during the tumultuous years in the long, sad history of that troubled, war ravished nation, Mariam born out of wedlock in Herat, to a wealthy man, lecherous Jalil and Nana, she was a maid at his house, he had already three wives and soon ten other children, sent to an isolated hovel by a tiny village , near the city to live out of sight, the embarrassment with her mother. The occasional visits by him were the highlight of Mariam's young life, a devoted daughter with an uncaring father, bitter Nana's endless recriminations against him, made for an appalling situation. At 15 the girl can no longer remain and flees to Jalil, who she loves above everyone nevertheless he refuses to see, taken back... an awful tragedy materializes .. Married off to a shoemaker in Kabul the capital, a big man almost thirty years older, Rasheed with a propensity to put women in their place, his wife must dress properly outside, walk behind, talk to him only when asked a virtual slave in the home, her main duty is to give him sons...but her numerous pregnancies do not go to fruition. The ignorant hypercritical husband, is always angry beatings and scoldings become common....Laila, background is very different than Mariam, from another generation, born and raised in Kabul, the bright student to loving parents, the father a former teacher, bookish, timid and small, dismissed by the communist government, an emotional domineering mother with bouts of ennui...depression, stays in bed many a day , her two sons joined the Mujahideen but were killed by the Soviet invaders. The war comes to the capital after the Russians leave, warlords struggle for power, starvation widespread, horrendous crimes committed in the open, shelling obliterated much of the city and the people, thousands perished ...including Laila's parents, in the future her teenage boyfriend Tariq two years older, escapes with his family to safety in Pakistan , she refused to leave her father and mother still alive then...Soon alone in trouble, Laila has to marry Rasheed...his wife Mariam , had nursed the wounded Laila in their home. It will be like before, the evil commences ... the aging Rasheed's punching, kicking, slapping, verbal abuse to both his wives , they are cognizant of their lowly status... only the son Zalmai is adored by him, his "daughter"Aziza, hated. ..An outstanding book about two remarkable women, who endure...they will fight back... someday.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    ‘’Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter. Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.’’ ‘’This is what it means to be a woman in this world.’’ It is difficult, so difficult to read a book you don’t want to touch. A book that gnaws at your heart and spits out the pieces with glee. Because even though you know the truth, you don’t want to face it. You are not ready, you are not prepared. You refuse to ‘’live’’ in a world that jumps fr ‘’Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter. Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.’’ ‘’This is what it means to be a woman in this world.’’ It is difficult, so difficult to read a book you don’t want to touch. A book that gnaws at your heart and spits out the pieces with glee. Because even though you know the truth, you don’t want to face it. You are not ready, you are not prepared. You refuse to ‘’live’’ in a world that jumps from the pages, so eloquently depicted, so horrifying and tangible. You refuse to believe that there are still parts in the world where women’s value is lower than a speck of dust, a drop of urine. You refuse to face the reality of a world where Rasheeds and Jalils exist instead of being torn apart and thrown to the dogs. Words are cheap when it comes to this novel. Every literary remark is void and pretentious. And the road is still too long. This is living Hell… ‘’Where I come from, one wrong look, one improper word, and blood is spilled. Where I come from, a woman’s face is her husband’s business only.’’ ‘’You will not, under any circumstances, show your face. You will cover with burqua when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten. Cosmetics are forbidden. Jewellery is forbidden. You will not wear charming clothes. You will not speak unless spoken to. You will not make eye contact with men. You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten. You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger. Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately. Women are forbidden from working. If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death. Listen. Listen well. Obey. Allah-u-akbar’’ Disclaimer: I am not a follower of political correctness or thought-guidelines. No one, NO ONE will dictate what I will believe and what I will write. My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  12. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    in true hosseini fashion, this book does not shy away from heavy, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics. but i realised that this book should make the reader feel uncomfortable. the tragedies that women face, even today, are crimes against humanity. but the strength of the two women this story follows is deeply moving and incredibly inspiring. to save my heart from emotional devastation, i tried to focus on the positives of this story, which can be summed up in this quote: ‘they would make new l in true hosseini fashion, this book does not shy away from heavy, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics. but i realised that this book should make the reader feel uncomfortable. the tragedies that women face, even today, are crimes against humanity. but the strength of the two women this story follows is deeply moving and incredibly inspiring. to save my heart from emotional devastation, i tried to focus on the positives of this story, which can be summed up in this quote: ‘they would make new lives for themselves - peaceful, solitary lives - and there the weight of all that they had endured would lift from them, and they would be deserving of all the happiness and simple prosperity they would find.’ what a beautiful sentiment, that trials and suffering can help lead up to something more - more hope, more happiness. this story is a testament to the will-power and resilience of women, as well as a wonderful portrayal of friendship, family, and love. such a powerful book and a must-read for everyone. ↠ 4.5 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    5***** But this book deserves a thousand splendid stars- it is a true masterpiece and a wonderful book! "Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam." This story chronicles 30 years of Afghan history; from Soviet invasion, to the Taliban, to post-Taliban. This story is told from the perspective of two women; born a generation apart, with different ideas of love and family, two 5***** But this book deserves a thousand splendid stars- it is a true masterpiece and a wonderful book! "Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam." This story chronicles 30 years of Afghan history; from Soviet invasion, to the Taliban, to post-Taliban. This story is told from the perspective of two women; born a generation apart, with different ideas of love and family, two very different childhoods, they are bought together by loss and by war. This story shows both the dangers that Mariam and Laila face- on the streets of Kabul and in the home. This story shows the important bond of friendship, and how strong this is especially when faced with difficult decisions or scenarios, and how this bond of love will effect the next generation. "Where I come from, one wrong look... and blood is spilled. Where I come from, a woman's face is her husband's business only I want you to remember that." My heart bled for Mariam's childhood. She held little freedom and was sheltered from most of the outside world. She knew very few people as well and had a mother who refused help for a mental illness (labeling it as the jinn taking over her body). Mariam had little luxuries and was denied an education by those around her... These exact things that most of us take for-granted. On the other hand, Laila had siblings and a father that absolutely adored her. She also had friends her own age with whom she truly cherished, and had the privilege of an education. However, both women's lives are brought together through tumultuous events, leading them to both have the same fate and live in a very unhappy household, where abuse and violence takes place at the hands of their controlling husband, Rasheed. Laila never would have believed that a human body could withstand this much beating, this viciously, this regularly, and keep functioning. The level of control and subordination of these women shocked me. Reading parts of this book left a stale taste in my mouth over the abuse and learned helplessness these women face. Singing is forbidden. Dancing is forbidden. Attention women: You will stay inside your homes at all times.. if you go outside you must be accompanied by a male relative. You will not, under any circumstance show your face.... Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately. Hosseini does a fantastic job at describing the rules that both men and women face under Taliban rule, and Shari'a law. It's almost hard to believe the inequality and the restriction of freedom the women in this story faced- it made me feel like my stomach had plummeted to my feet... It also made me incredibly angry, my fists curling on more than one occasion. On the whole, this book is extremely thought-provoking and not easy to digest, however, it also inflames the human body with emotion; heart-breaking, heart-clenching and the story hits you like punches to the gut. This book will resonate with some people who have lived through war-torn countries or under the terrifying Taliban rule, or, as in my case, it will be a learning experience. For example, learning Afghan history and the shifts in the treatment of women culturally. It also makes the reader consider their own privilege compared to the stories of both Laila and Mariam. I think the most stunning thing about this novel is that whilst Mariam and Laila are fictional characters, it applies to so many women out there (for example, around 65 million girls globally are not in school). Hosseini may be writing fictional characters, but these are the stories of an army of resilient and brave women who have lived and breathed this life. He makes the reader aware. This book provided devastation and loss, as well as hope and love and beauty. Hosseini approaches the plot in a very realistic way and it is written beautifully. This is an unforgettable read for me and the stories of Laila and Mariam will stay with me for a while. One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

  14. 5 out of 5

    F

    Loved this!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini A 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 Hosseini A 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. Hosseini has remarked that he regards the novel as a "mother-daughter story" in contrast to The Kite Runner, which he considers a "father-son story". It continues some of the themes used in his previous work, such as the familial aspects, but focuses primarily on female characters and their roles in Afghan society. با این عنوانها چاپ شده: هزار خورشید درخشان؛ هزار آفتاب شکفت انگیز؛ هزار خورشید تابان؛ هزاران خورشید تابان؛ هزاران خورشید درخشان؛هزاران خورشید فروزان؛ هزار خورشید باشکوه؛ هزار خورشید رخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه فوریه سال 2007 و بار دیگر در ماه اکتبر سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: هزار خورشید درخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: بیتا کاظمی؛ تهران، باغ نو، 1386؛ در 461 ص؛ شابک: 9789647425384؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان افغانی تبار امریکایی - سده 21 م عنوان: هزار خورشید رخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: زامیاد سعدوندیان؛ تهران، نگارستان کتاب، 1387؛ در 488 ص؛ شابک: 9789648155297؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: پریسا سلیمانزاده اردبیلی؛ زیبا گنجی؛ تهران، مروارید، 1386؛ در 451 ص؛ شابک: 9789648831879؛ چاپ دوم و سوم 1387؛ پنجم 1388؛ ششم 1389؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: آزاده شهپری؛ تهران، ماهابه، 1393؛ در 428 ص؛ شابک: 9786005205503؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: حمیدرضا بلوچ؛ تهران، به سخن، 1394؛ در 407 ص؛ شابک: 9786009484492؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید باشکوه؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: ایرج مثال آذر؛ تهران، در دانش بهمن، 1386؛ در 464 ص؛ شابک: 9789641740070؛ چاپ دوم 1387؛ عنوان: هزار خورشید باشکوه؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: ناهید سلامی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1386؛ در 433 ص؛ شابک: 9789643623920؛ عنوان: هزاران خورشید فروزان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: فیروزه مقدم (عابدی)؛ تهران، نشر تهران، 1389؛ در 487 ص؛ شابک: 9789642911158؛ عنوان: هزاران خورشید درخشان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: سمیه گنجی؛ ساری، زهره، 1386؛ در 447 ص؛ شابک: 9789642981038؛ عنوان: هزاران خورشید تابان؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: مژگان احمدی؛ تهران، بهزاد، 1389؛ در 320 ص؛ شابک: 9789642569939؛ عنوان: هزاران آفتاب شگفت انگیز؛ نویسنده: خالد حسینی؛ مترجم: منیژه شیخ جوادی (بهزاد)؛ تهران، پیکان، 1386؛ در 432 ص؛ شابک: 9789643285623؛ نام و عنوان کتاب از این شعر برگرفته شده: «حساب مه جبینان لب بامش که میداند؟ دوصد خورشیدرو افتاده بر، هر پای دیوارش». بیت را «صائب تبریزی» در وصف «کابل» سروده است از متن کتاب: «جلیل با خنده برایش داستان «ملکه گوهرشاد» را تعریف میکرد، که مناره های مشهور هرات را در قرن پانزدهم، به عنوان چکامه ای از عشق خود به آن دیار بنا کرده بود، او برایش از گندمزارهای سبز هرات و باغهای میوه، تاکستانهایی که آبستن شاخه های پربار انگور بودند، بازارهای پر ازدحام و شلوغ با سقفهای بلند و محرابیشان گفته بود. یک روز جلیل گفت: یک درخت پسته هست «مریم» جان، که زیر آن کسی جز «جامی»، شاعر بزرگ نخوابیده است، پس از آن جلیل خم شد و زمزمه کرد: جامی پانصد سال پیش زندگی میکرد. بله. یکبار ترا به آنجا برده ام، پیش آن درخت، اما تو کوچک بودی و یادت نمیآید». پایان نقل از متن. ا. شربیانی

  16. 4 out of 5

    Don

    Suns is part historical fiction, part social commentary and part kick-in-the-throat storytelling. A friend of mine said that Suns is a metaphor for Afghanistan but I found it illustrative of Afghanistan's weary and violent history; I found it brutally educational. When I had studied in Germany in 1987, I lived in an international dormitory. I asked my neighbor, Hyder, where he was from, he leaned in to me with a devilish grin and hissed “Afghanistan!” While others found this amusing, the effect Suns is part historical fiction, part social commentary and part kick-in-the-throat storytelling. A friend of mine said that Suns is a metaphor for Afghanistan but I found it illustrative of Afghanistan's weary and violent history; I found it brutally educational. When I had studied in Germany in 1987, I lived in an international dormitory. I asked my neighbor, Hyder, where he was from, he leaned in to me with a devilish grin and hissed “Afghanistan!” While others found this amusing, the effect was completely lost on me; I had no perspective at the time and was completely clueless of both international and domestic politics. Although not as gripping and revelatory as Kit Runner, this novel certainly packs punches that will knock the literary wind out of you. Khaled tells us the story of two women and their struggles for life in a society that thinks they should not live. What I find ironic about such societies is the obvious struggle between valuing women as life givers while depleting their worth because they are not men. What I love about Suns is that Khaled does not once point out the obvious sociopolitical conundrums of these ridiculous and ill-founded attitudes. Khaled tells these women's story and leaves the reader to wince, tear up and sigh; one time I had to catch my breath. I really enjoy Mr. Housseini’s transportive narrative and I was entirely engulfed in the lives of his characters. Of late, I often take the train with my new commuting-buddy Maria and her 2 year old daughter Vivian. One morning as I sat next to Maria, Vivian began to relieve a peanut butter english muffin sandwich of it’s contents. I took out Suns and began reading while Vivian took to her task with muted satisfaction. I closed the book. I just could not process the grim and dire passage I had begun reading the night before with the delighted consumption of the eviscerated contents of homemade love.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Luffy

    I didn't know whether to keep on reading or DNF this book. I didn't know if I should give it 5 stars or 2. The thing is, I cannot abide extreme hardship, pain, and suffering on behalf of the characters that are in the books I read. I'm certain that this is to be the last book I'd read this year. And what a book did it prove to be! The mind reels at the barbarism that can be eked from such perverted ways of thinking. Reason, rationality are out of the window. I know I haven't mentioned the plot or I didn't know whether to keep on reading or DNF this book. I didn't know if I should give it 5 stars or 2. The thing is, I cannot abide extreme hardship, pain, and suffering on behalf of the characters that are in the books I read. I'm certain that this is to be the last book I'd read this year. And what a book did it prove to be! The mind reels at the barbarism that can be eked from such perverted ways of thinking. Reason, rationality are out of the window. I know I haven't mentioned the plot or who appears in the book, but I cannot. I cannot summarize this book. I need to read one of my favorite non fiction writers posthaste. I must forget the rawness of A Thousand Splendid Suns. The latter reads like a horrible documentary. I must dull the sadness in me. Sorry people, it's the best that I can do.

  18. 4 out of 5

    enqi ☁️✨

    Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. 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 women suffer. Poignant, stunning, and impossibly heartrending, A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS was one of the best and most meaningful books I've read because it embodies all the themes and values regarding gender identity and disparity that has been much debated by society for a Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. 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 women suffer. Poignant, stunning, and impossibly heartrending, A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS was one of the best and most meaningful books I've read because it embodies all the themes and values regarding gender identity and disparity that has been much debated by society for a long time. It reminds me every day that in a world full of prejudice, there is still beauty. That in a world full of hatred, there is still selflessness. That in a world full of suffering, there is still hope. I'd like to start off by saying that I absolutely loved this book. With every page I read my heart was in my mouth and my stomach felt like it would drop to my shoes any moment. But I loved this book. I loved this book. It is a beautiful and enlightening story filled to the brim with hope, even beneath its painful, heart-wrenching emotional rawness. How strange, because this was a book where I dared not to turn the page, but I kept flipping and breaking my own heart anyway. “A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed. It won't stretch to make room for you.” A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS tells of the oppression of women in Afghanistan and the injustice with which they are treated -- of how their only way to social status and approval is to bear a male heir. Mariam, one of the main characters, is one of the saddest characters in literature. Born a bastard child to a very wealthy man, she has faced being called "harami" (an insult) her whole life, been shunned and discriminated and thought of as ignorant and worthless, even by her own birth father and her family. Finally, she is married off to a man named Rasheed, who is violent, rude, abusive and just plain mean (honestly, I wanted to kick him in the face throughout the whole book). He sees her only as a tool for breeding his heirs and mistreats, r*pes and severely abuses her, when it is found out that she is sterile. But despite life being, for the most part, unfair to her, and despite facing nothing but hardship her whole life, Mariam's personality is so beautiful that it completely broke my heart. Unfazed by the betrayal of almost everyone she knows and the misfortune that she is constantly granted, Mariam remains resigned, but most of all an extremely resilient, selfless, humble, and kind person. When Rasheed takes a second wife, Laila, the two women despise each other at first, but soon unite against their husband's verbal and physical and emotional abuse. Mariam, being self-sacrificial, often tried to protect Laila and bore the brunt of Rasheed's anger. The book ended in the most heartbreaking way possible and yet it was so fitting to Mariam's utterly stoic, compassionate and sacrificial personality that I just sat there and bawled. I couldn't help it. I somehow knew in my bones that Mariam would make the ultimate sacrifice - (view spoiler)[ to turn herself in to the Taliban and be sentenced to death so that Laila and her children could go free and find happiness with Laila's soul mate, Tariq. I loved Mariam then, loved her because she was a flower even with all the acid that life had thrown at her; she'd never let her kindness wilt, and at the end she was thinking of not her own, but Laila's happiness. I didn't stop crying for days. Mariam 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 beginnings. (hide spoiler)] Suffice it to say that I was a complete wreck after reading this. I'm still a complete wreck. I thought at first that A Thousand Splendid Suns would be a book of brutality and depression - but it is not. It is an unabashed display of the beauty of the human spirit, and the resilient strength of the two female main characters in this story made me truly realise that what defines a woman are her actions and values, and nothing else. When I turned the last page it occurred to me that this story is as much a reflection of the strength that women are capable of as it is a tale of hope; a tale of how flowers can grow even in the most barren cracks, and hearts find ways to connect even amidst a brutal regime and a country torn apart by war. "Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always."

  19. 5 out of 5

    She-who-must-not-be-named

    " One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls." There are very few books that make me feel a tempest of emotions: make me happy and proud at one moment and break my heart in the next; make me chuckle at a few scenes and leave me in tears later, make me love a few characters and hate the others- and this is one such book. The novel focuses on the life of two Afghan women-Mariam and Laila who come from different walks of life. " One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls." There are very few books that make me feel a tempest of emotions: make me happy and proud at one moment and break my heart in the next; make me chuckle at a few scenes and leave me in tears later, make me love a few characters and hate the others- and this is one such book. The novel focuses on the life of two Afghan women-Mariam and Laila who come from different walks of life. Laila enjoys her school life, and is absorbed by the thoughts of her crush Tariq. She's beautiful, confident, smart, strong and playful. Mariam, on the the other hand is the illegitimate daughter of a businessman Jalil . She faces a lot of social problems and rejection but she is headstrong and the real hero of the story. About Jalil well, I had a lot of mixed opinions: marrying Mariam off to Rasheed made me feel disgusted, but the (view spoiler)[ emotional letter he wrote at the last (hide spoiler)] took me by surprise. The characters in the book struggle for their survival in a harsh and obstinate society: They are wounded due to wars, relationships get tough and abusive, their property is destroyed; despite all this, they stick together, which is something I admired. But the best part about this book is the way Mariam and Laila show relentless pursuit and resilience and face all obstacles, especially considering how women are treated in their place- it filled me with pride and I was in love with their headstrongness. I was hooked, right from the first chapter. This book was pretty much like a rollercoaster- I felt a surge of emotions- anger, remorse and joy coursing through my veins with every passing chapter and I kept turning the pages to know more and before I had an inkling about it, I was done. The story was enticing, the narration was flawless, each chapter had a twist so intriguing I was compelled to read it multiple times. My heart beat fast reading about he struggles faced my Mariam and Laila and the ending just got so heartbreaking I was almost in tears. I have humongous respect for Khaled Hosseini and I'm looking forward to reading more of his books.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    I started this book with high expectations. I had been overwhelmed with every conceivable emotion when I read the “Kite Runner” and just couldn’t believe that his second book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, could possibly be as good. So it was with trepidation and yet excitement that I read this book. I had left the last dozen or so pages to read until the following morning, as I didn’t want to quite let it go, and as I sat there at 7 a.m. on the terrace, with a cup of coffee in my hand, I slowly fi I started this book with high expectations. I had been overwhelmed with every conceivable emotion when I read the “Kite Runner” and just couldn’t believe that his second book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, could possibly be as good. So it was with trepidation and yet excitement that I read this book. I had left the last dozen or so pages to read until the following morning, as I didn’t want to quite let it go, and as I sat there at 7 a.m. on the terrace, with a cup of coffee in my hand, I slowly finished the book. I breathed in deeply on reading the final sentence and looked down the valley, past the foothills at the Pic d’Anie, part of the magnificent Pyrenean mountain chain. The sun would be rising over the hills within the hour as I looked in the direction of Afghanistan, wondering how many Moslems had already prayed that morning in the mosques, with their prayer mats facing towards Makkah in Saudi Arabia. This book was an extraordinary, contemporary, social document covering Afghan history from before the Soviet war until after the Taliban rule. The violence that ensued from this period in time resulted in the inevitable violence towards women. I abhor any form of violence and live in fear what will happen should another war occur. To see in what low-esteem and contempt the average Afghan viewed women, especially the Taliban, quite shocked me, and yet I “lived and breathed” this book. Women were worth nothing. I think the reason this book had such a profound effect on me was due to living in Saudi Arabia for sixteen years and I could relate to a certain extent to what the women had to endure. Under the Qur’an, men were entitled to have up to four wives, and they were supposed to treat them all equally. Then a man could just arbitrarily state “I divorce thee” three times and that was the end of the marriage. Many women were just cast out from the family home and led a miserable existence begging on the streets. What was remarkable about these women, however, was their instinct for survival and they still managed to laugh and joke. The author’s own words were concise and to the point of life in Afghanistan at that time: “For almost three decades now, the Afghan refugee crisis has been one of the most severe around the globe. War, hunger, anarchy and oppression forced millions of people……to abandon their homes and flee Afghanistan to settle in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.” The book is basically the powerful story of two women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become indelibly linked because of three men: Jalil, Tariq and Rasheed. Mariam was the illegitimate daughter of Jalil, living with her mother Nana in an isolated place outside of Herat. She really loves her father and decides that she wishes to live with him instead of her mother, with disastrous consequences; the upshot being that Mariam is forced to become the wife of Rasheed in Kabul. Laila is a good childhood friend of Tariq and they finally fall in love with far reaching results when Tariq leaves with his family for Pakistan. Laila, who’s a great survivor, and philosophical, as is Mariam, then becomes Rasheed’s wife. For the two women, life with Rasheed becomes a living hell. I kept on thinking, I just want something really evil to happen to this despicable creature (I have worse thoughts than that but best to keep quiet on that and not write them down). In reality Tariq, the childhood friend of Laila, is the catalyst in the book. I really admired him, he was my favorite character, and he was brilliantly portrayed. The writing style is simple as far as I’m concerned and there is an over excess of violence. However, the attention for detail is remarkable and this runs throughout the book: When Laila is recovering at Rasheed’s home after a bomb attack, Mariam sees a complete and utter change in her husband. He becomes unusually kind and gentle, and he is seen to be courting Laila. The humiliation of both Mariam and Laila at having to wear the burqa, thus putting them into insignificance to the outside world; the husband being the only person allowed to look upon their faces. The incident when Rasheed “makes love” to Laila for the first time. She to all intents and purposes is a virgin. She has a knife, cuts her finger and leaves some blood on the bed under where they were sleeping. Laila cooking a rather bad meal for Rasheed and the end results with the stones. Laila, Mariam and Rasheed with the shovel. This nearly blew my mind. Mariam in jail, refusing to see anyone, and then her journey to the football stadium. I had the most incredible feeling of time just stopping at this point and had great difficulty in turning the page. But then this happened to me on innumerable occasions throughout this wonderful book. I’m always intrigued with the titles of books and this one was no exception. This originated from a poem written by Saib-e-Tabrizi in the 17th century and is quoted by Laila’s father Babi when the family had decided to leave Kabul. He could, however, only remember these two lines: “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” I just absolutely loved this book. However, I’m not happy having purely the Kindle version and so I’ve ordered the hardback. I still get more pleasure from a book. And I have Khaled Hosseini’s third book to look forward to in a few months: “And the Mountains Echoed”. Can this be even better? Is that possible? Yes!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    4.75 stars This book doesn’t have the full, 100% impact of WOW THAT WAS AMAZING but it was pretty damn good. This is my favorite type of story that slowly weaves its threads and develops a narrative over generations, and just when you think all of the ends are tied up, it comes full circle and punches you in the gut all over again. This book is just as empowering as it is tragic, and Hosseini is just masterful at storytelling at this magnificent scope. The writing is gorgeous without being longwi 4.75 stars This book doesn’t have the full, 100% impact of WOW THAT WAS AMAZING but it was pretty damn good. This is my favorite type of story that slowly weaves its threads and develops a narrative over generations, and just when you think all of the ends are tied up, it comes full circle and punches you in the gut all over again. This book is just as empowering as it is tragic, and Hosseini is just masterful at storytelling at this magnificent scope. The writing is gorgeous without being longwinded, the characters are so exquisitely fleshed out. It's also one of those rare books that's pretty melancholy throughout the duration of the book, but something about getting to the ending just really brought out the floodworks and i'm sitting here typing this review lookin like that one mindy kaling meme. Hosseini's books have all proven tremendous and if you're intimidated but still want to try them out, I would recommend this on audio! This is one of the most bittersweet, infuriating, yet touching books I've ever read. Wowww. Maybe it does deserve the full five stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. All citizens must pray five times a day… All men must grow beards… All women must stay inside at all times… No woman, under any circumstances, may show her face… Singing is forbidden. Dancing is forbidden. Playing cards, playing chess, gambling and kite flying are forbidden. Writing books, watching films and painting pictures are forbidden. Cosmetics are forbidden. Jewelry is forbidden. Women will not wear charming clothes. Women will not speak unless spoken to. Women will not laugh in public. Girls are for All citizens must pray five times a day… All men must grow beards… All women must stay inside at all times… No woman, under any circumstances, may show her face… Singing is forbidden. Dancing is forbidden. Playing cards, playing chess, gambling and kite flying are forbidden. Writing books, watching films and painting pictures are forbidden. Cosmetics are forbidden. Jewelry is forbidden. Women will not wear charming clothes. Women will not speak unless spoken to. Women will not laugh in public. Girls are forbidden from attending school. Women are forbidden from working. If you steal, your hand will be cut off. If you commit adultery, you will be stoned to death… Listen. Listen well. Obey. Welcome to Taliban country. What is the enduring attraction of dystopias? Why do we keep on reading about these hellish landscapes where humanity is long dead? Maybe it’s just the devil within, that makes many of us stop and stare at road accidents; maybe there is a cathartic effect, showing us that however bad things are, they could be worse. Or maybe it is the fascination of watching the human spirit soar above the inhuman universe. Most probably, it is a combination of all three. Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is a dystopia with a difference: instead of being hatched in the brain of some gifted writer, it is one which existed, very near to us in time and space. For the second time, Khaled Hosseini trains his spotlight on his unfortunate home country-however, whereas in The Kite Runner it was only a plot device for the protagonist’s personal redemptive journey, here it is one of the main characters, this land of A Thousand Splendid Suns. This novel is the story of two women, and through them, Woman in general; as she exists and endures in most parts of the world. Marginalised, a vagina in her youth, a womb in her womanhood, and a pair of hands for sweeping and cleaning in her old age. Created by God as an afterthought as a playmate to His star creation which He made in His own image. Mariam is a harami, born on the other side of the blanket to the wealthy Jalil Khan and his housekeeper Nana. Nana accepts the fact they are outcasts, while Mariam doesn’t. She demands her share of her father’s love, which he is ready to give on the sly – the problem is, she wants it publicly. Her insistence on visiting her father at his town house ends in her mother’s suicide. Orphaned Mariam, an embarrassment to her father and his three wives, is married off at fifteen to Rasheed, an elderly widower… with whom she endures a loveless and abusive marriage. She is also an object of shame to him because she consistently fails in carrying a baby to term. Laila is better off as far as family is concerned – she has an educated and loving father, a mother who is much more considerate than many others (even though she is slowly on her way to madness because of her missing sons who have gone off to fight the Soviets), and a charming friend, the one-legged Tariq, who is fast becoming much more than a friends as the children mature. However, her world slowly starts to unravel as Afghanistan’s war with the USSR is won and then the various resistance groups starts fighting among themselves. One of her best friends meets a horrible death, another friend is married off, and Tariq leaves for Pakistan with his family. Ironically, when her family finally decides to move to Pakistan, a stray missile lands on her home killing both her parents. The injured Laila is taken in by Rasheed; with ulterior motives, it is soon revealed. However, she has no option but to become the second wife of the lecherous old man as she is carrying Tariq’s illegitimate child: and the news of Tariq’s death has come from across the border. As Afghanistan moves through the Civil war era to the Taliban era, the two women, initially hostile, form a bond. The bond is strengthened when Laila gives birth to a girl and loses glamour in the eyes of Rasheed, making her a fellow-sufferer with Mariam: and Mariam simply loves Aziza, Laila’s daughter, all the more because she is a little harami like herself! Things slowly spiral to a climax when Tariq returns. It seems the story of his death has been manufactured by Rasheed. In a climax slightly reminiscent of a Hindi movie in the best Bollywood tradition, Mariam puts paid to her brute of a husband with a garden shovel, as he is trying to strangle Laila. Laila escapes with Tariq and her children, while Mariam confesses to her crime and receives the Taliban’s swift and brutal justice. In the last part, we find Laila returning to the Taliban-exorcised Afghanistan, where she makes a pilgrimage to Mariam’s birthplace and unexpectedly receives the money left for Mariam by her repentant father. With it, she revives the orphanage and school where Aziza had been given shelter during the worst years of her life. We leave the story with the news of her third child growing inside her – whose name is already fixed (we can all guess what it will be!), should it turn out to be a girl. * Khaled Hosseini is definitely not a literary writer. His style is emotional: the story is given all importance, not the way it is delivered. There were complaints (rather justified, IMO) about the lack of dimension of the characters, especially the villain, in The Kite Runner: Hosseini was accused of playing up to the gallery by vilifying the Islamic world for the benefit of a largely Western audience. In hindsight, I have to reluctantly agree, even though I loved that book. A Thousand Splendid Suns is slightly better in the sense that all the characters are better drawn. The Taliban are shown as human beings, even though believers in a barbarian philosophy. Rasheed is unabashedly evil, however: but that has nothing to do with religion or geography – SOB’s like him are a dime to dozen in almost all third-world countries. However, the women protagonists are well-etched. Thankfully, they fight back even when the dice is loaded against them. The novel follows a beaten path: there are very few surprises. The narrative structure is linear, and the author does not challenge the reader at any time within the narrative. The result is a story which flows at breakneck pace, loaded with emotion. We root for the good guys and boo the bad guys at all the appropriate places. And in the end, when Mariam cracks open Rasheed’s skull, we stand up and applaud. But I do not care if the emotion is cheap – I thoroughly enjoyed it. One needs to load up on junk food now and then! The most noteworthy thing about A Thousand Splendid Suns is the way Afghanistan is portrayed: one weeps for the destruction of a beautiful country, gang-raped and mutilated by hordes and hordes of marauders. One wishes that the current tenuous peace holds, so that she can get back on her feet. * Once a taxi driver here talked to me about his family back in Pakistan, on the hilly borderland near Afghanistan. These areas are still outside the police scanner and largely controlled by the Taliban. He told me how his brilliant daughter was forced out of school by armed men on pain of death. He had wanted to make her a doctor, and now she was confined to sooty pots and pans in the backyard. The poor man was almost in tears. I remembered him when Mariam brought down the shovel the second time on Rasheed’s head. She was striking a blow for the taxi-driver’s daughter: and all such women, crushed under the iron boot of tradition which gives them existence only as man’s playthings and possessions. You are fearsome: yet I bow to you, O Mother. Edit to add: I think she has to be here.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    Beutifully Written, Poignant and moving. A novel that deserves to be read and re-read. I first read A Thousand Splendid Suns in 2010 and was so moved by the story of Marian and Laila that I planned on re-reading it within a year but the best laid plans and all that..... Finally came up in an online book group read and just couldnt wait to read it again to see would I react the say way as I did seven years ago. A Thousand Splendid Suns is an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history an Beutifully Written, Poignant and moving. A novel that deserves to be read and re-read. I first read A Thousand Splendid Suns in 2010 and was so moved by the story of Marian and Laila that I planned on re-reading it within a year but the best laid plans and all that..... Finally came up in an online book group read and just couldnt wait to read it again to see would I react the say way as I did seven years ago. A Thousand Splendid Suns is an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love. An amazing sense of time and place along with memorable likeable and dislikable characters and a plot that is educational and emotionally draining makes this novel the incredible read that it is and the reason for my 5 Star rating in 2010 and again in 2017. While I remembered most of the characters and the story line, it was still a great read second time around and knowing that the discussion with the group would be lively and challenging added an extra bonus to reading this for a second time. A compelling and heartbreaking story that stays with you long after you finish the novel and this is one book that makes me thankful for the life I was born into. A wonderful read and a book that everyone should read at least once.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aj the Ravenous Reader

    At 15, while I was still playing jack stones or watching Japanese anime, the girls in the story perpetually worried that any day they would be given away to some stranger in marriage. While I complained about the heat during bedtime, these girls feared they would wake up tomorrow without a home and a family or worse, would not wake up altogether. What hurt me most is the thought that although the characters and settings may be fictional, the events in the entire story did take place in Afghanist At 15, while I was still playing jack stones or watching Japanese anime, the girls in the story perpetually worried that any day they would be given away to some stranger in marriage. While I complained about the heat during bedtime, these girls feared they would wake up tomorrow without a home and a family or worse, would not wake up altogether. What hurt me most is the thought that although the characters and settings may be fictional, the events in the entire story did take place in Afghanistan and may still be taking place in other places around the world. Call me selfish, but the story made me appreciate my life even more. It is a heart-wrenching yet inspiring story that haunted me for days but from the very bottom of my heart, I thank the Mr. Khaled Hosseini for his unrivaled bravery and generosity for writing A Thousand Splendid Suns, a story about a woman’s strength, resilience and will to have a place in a society of endless wars and conflicts and where laws and social rules seem to conspire against her. This is a story that shows how a woman can be beaten, spit on or even stoned to death and yet her spirit and faith won’t waver. She will continue to fight for the ones she loves without complaint and will continue to weep and bleed for the love of her country. I love how the lens of the story starts by zooming in on a small village, on one small character whose role in society seems of least significance and then zooms out onto the bigger picture, showing the conflicts in the country as a whole and how in the end, the small character will mark a huge place in the society. Even though this was one of my saddest, heaviest reads this year, I still look forward to reading the rest of the books written by the author. ☼ On a much lighter note, happy birthday to one of my most awesome, most wonderful friends, Masooma. Friends like you rarely come to a person’s life and I’m really lucky to have met you. I wish you everything that will make you happy and I don’t need to specify books. Lol. Love yah, girl! <3

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fabian {Councillor}

    Though not as popular as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is an extremely important novel with a huge number of interesting themes which are explored in its rather short amount of pages. In this family saga and moving tale of friendship, hate and love at the same time, Hosseini abbreviates several decades of important history into a fictional story spanning more than thirty years. It's a depressing novel, consisting of a rather dark atmosphere and many chapters which Though not as popular as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is an extremely important novel with a huge number of interesting themes which are explored in its rather short amount of pages. In this family saga and moving tale of friendship, hate and love at the same time, Hosseini abbreviates several decades of important history into a fictional story spanning more than thirty years. It's a depressing novel, consisting of a rather dark atmosphere and many chapters which will leave you gasping for breath due to the sheer amount of brutality and inhumanity some characters seem to love carrying out. What I found most intriguing in this novel was the way Hosseini managed to provide a lot of information about the history of Afghanistan, a country which has been dominated by war and destruction for such a long time. At times he came close to sounding like a nonfictional correspondent of the events with his prose, but fortunately it never felt like the author was trying to pour infodump out on his readers. "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is a tough book to review, simply because it deals with so many socially relevant issues that it feels like nitpicking to talk about the writing and the characterization. It's an important book which I can only encourage everyone to read as soon as possible, considering that it offers plenty food for your thoughts and leaves you pondering about themes and questions which you may not have thought about in such detailed precision before. My biggest problem with the novel was mostly about the main characters Laila and Mariam, who - thanks to the rather detached and neutral writing style - felt very difficult to connect or relate to. I started rooting for these characters throughout the course of the novel, though that's rather obvious to say considering the fate these two women had to endure in the course of the plot. As a final note, I think this book - or Hosseini's other books in general - should receive more attention by the public. Nowadays, especially here in Germany, there is a lot of displeasure directed towards foreigners and their cultures, not necessarily people from Afghanistan, but the Middle East and Far East in general. Hosseini manages to introduces his readers who are not familiar with the cultures described in this novel to a different world, a world I personally didn't know as much about before reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" (and still wouldn't consider myself knowing a lot about). Khaled Hosseini's writing transports the important message that no matter where we come from, we are still all humans. Here in Germany and probably in many other places on our planet as well, people often tend to forget that coming from a different culture does not mean those humans are worth any less than we all are, and I think Hosseini's writing has the strength to remind more people of this fact. We are all human, and everyone deserves to be treated as such - no matter which cultural background you belong to.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    A Thousand Splendid Suns is a book by Khaled Hosseini. I found this book emotionally captivating and also a real eye opener, I had never before truly understood the hardship of female life under Taliban rule. Undeniably Khaled Hossaini is a great story teller. His depictions of Afghanistan and his characters bring them to life for the reader. Overall, it was a beautiful book that really opened my eyes to the wonderful people of Afghanistan and their history and how many women are still mistreated A Thousand Splendid Suns is a book by Khaled Hosseini. I found this book emotionally captivating and also a real eye opener, I had never before truly understood the hardship of female life under Taliban rule. Undeniably Khaled Hossaini is a great story teller. His depictions of Afghanistan and his characters bring them to life for the reader. Overall, it was a beautiful book that really opened my eyes to the wonderful people of Afghanistan and their history and how many women are still mistreated today.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tom Carrico

    Book Review A Thousand Splendid Suns By Khaled Hosseini Reviewed by Tom Carrico It’s amazing that this author has the #1 fiction paperback (The Kite Runner) and the #1 fiction hardback (A Thousand Splendid Suns) on “The New York Times” bestseller list. The Kite Runner has sold over four millions copies since its release in 2003. It is a hauntingly written novel set in war-torn Afghanistan. It is exceptionally well plotted and opens the window on a part of the world that very few of us are familiar w Book Review A Thousand Splendid Suns By Khaled Hosseini Reviewed by Tom Carrico It’s amazing that this author has the #1 fiction paperback (The Kite Runner) and the #1 fiction hardback (A Thousand Splendid Suns) on “The New York Times” bestseller list. The Kite Runner has sold over four millions copies since its release in 2003. It is a hauntingly written novel set in war-torn Afghanistan. It is exceptionally well plotted and opens the window on a part of the world that very few of us are familiar with. The two boys in The Kite Runner are from different socio-economic circumstance but forge a friendship which transcends politics, war and economics. Even though this story is set in Afghanistan, it is a story of childhood betrayal and its consequences and could really have been set anywhere. It is a great story wonderfully told, however, and the fact that it takes place in a land few of us understand makes it educational as well as entertaining. To use a baseball metaphor, if The Kite Runner was a home run, A Thousand Splendid Suns, the author’s second effort, is a game winning walk-off grand slam. The author has managed to tell the modern history of Afghanistan: from the end of the monarchy to the invasion of the Soviets to the chaos of rule by the war lords to the tight fisted maniacal rule of the Taliban to the post-9/11 return to some semblance of relative normalcy. The author again uses the device of telling the stories of two main characters of differing backgrounds, this time women. The first, Mariam, is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman in Herat. The book opens with the story of Mariam’s childhood. She is sequestered on the outskirts of the city in a clay hut with her mother. Her father visits once weekly and servants from his house bring basic supplies. Mariam’s mother is understandably bitter and the tension between mother and daughter is palpable. Eventually Mariam is given in marriage to Rasheed, an older shoe-maker from Kabul, mainly to remove the embarrassment of her very existence from her father’s world. This man is domineering and abusive and Mariam’s inability to conceive causes her to quickly fall out of favor. The second main character is Laila, a beautiful young girl who grows up as a neighbor of Rasheed and Mariam in Kabul. She has a childhood friend, Tariq, a young man who lost a leg to a Soviet land mine. As these children mature, they fall in love. Tariq’s family decides to run from the warlords who by now bombarding the city. During the hysteria of their pending separation, the two young lovers conceive a child. Once Laila realizes she is pregnant and has no idea how to contact Tariq, she also marries Rasheed and convinces him that the child is his. Needless to say, the relationship between Laila and the forlorn Mariam starts out poorly and gets worse. Eventually they are brought together by their shared victim status and their mutual disgust and hatred for Rasheed. The resolution of the conflict between these two women is riveting and, well, painful. You get the impression that there aren’t too many happy endings in Afghanistan. While the author tells these two women’s stories, he also gives the reader a fantastic and comprehensive history lesson. The modern history of Afghanistan is complicated and the author uses some of the secondary characters to deliver this lesson. Laila’s father is a school teacher and is very interested in politics and a lot of his dialogue is opinion about the current state of affairs. Laila’s two older brothers fight for one of the warlords against the Communists and are both killed. Rasheed is a businessman who tries to manipulate whatever political system is in charge at the moment, which also gives insight into the political and social climate through all of these regime changes. This is not an easy book to read. Over and over again, it is heart breaking. The cruelty to women is incomprehensible. The status of medical care during the rule of the Taliban is clinically detailed by the author (who is a physician) and graphically described when Laila presents to the only hospital in Kabul which is allowed to treat women and has to undergo a Caesarean section without anesthesia because the Taliban won’t fund the women’s hospital. Khaled Hosseini has a writing style reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway. He writes in short, brutal sentences which conjure images that the mind can’t even comprehend. He always uses the perfect word or phrase. He alludes to Hemingway in one section when Laila’s father is reading The Old Man and the Sea. A Thousand Splendid Suns is also a fight against impossible odds, a story of hope when the situation is hopeless, and the resilience of the human spirit. I think that this book is destined to be a classic. It is critically important for every American who has an opinion about war, freedom and human rights to read this book. It’s easy to forget the citizens of a country as it is repeatedly trampled over the decades. This book puts very real faces on people caught in the crossfire of a conflict they did not initiate. It describes conditions and situations which those of us living in the comfort of 21st century America cannot comprehend. This book is at once entertaining and horrifying, edifying and humbling, compulsively readable and appallingly shocking. It is terrific. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is available in hardcover from Riverhead Books.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I felt a little intrepid about reading this novel because I loved The Kite Runner so much, but A Thousand Splendid Suns is equally superb. The plot centers around the lives of the two distinct protagonists, Mariam and Laila. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of wealthy businessman Jalil but is forced to live with the stigma of being a "harami." She lives an isolated life with her mother, but her father visits weekly. Mariam's adoration for her father and desire for his acceptance leads to a fa I felt a little intrepid about reading this novel because I loved The Kite Runner so much, but A Thousand Splendid Suns is equally superb. The plot centers around the lives of the two distinct protagonists, Mariam and Laila. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of wealthy businessman Jalil but is forced to live with the stigma of being a "harami." She lives an isolated life with her mother, but her father visits weekly. Mariam's adoration for her father and desire for his acceptance leads to a fateful change in her entire existence. After tragedy strikes, Jalil, in his weakness, forces Mariam to marry Rasheed, an older man, and move to Kabul. Laila, on the other hand, leads a very different life. She has been raised in Kabul and has friends and a wonderful childhood sweetheart. Her father dotes on her and encourages her education. Unexpectedly, the two women's lives become intertwined by a cruel twist of fate. The novel spans over three decades and is set against the backdrop of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the ensuing internal conflict for control, and the eventual rule of the Taliban. These conflicts are central to the course of events that shape the characters' lives. As well as being a master storyteller, Hosseini has an undeniable ability to create vivid and memorable characters. After reading before bedtime, I would awaken still thinking of them. Somehow they became ingrained in my memory. For me, this is what separates a good book from a great book. A Thousand Splendid Suns is an extremely emotional read. I experienced every emotion imaginable- sorrow for the victims of Rasheed's cruelty, denial at the news of Tariq's demise, tenderness for the bond between Mariam and Laila, and indignation at Mariam's fate. I was ultimately reduced to tears when Laila travels to Herat, a beautiful moment. Memorable quote: She 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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. a good story. it was easy to read and went really quickly. liberal white women will love this book. thank allah i'm an uptight radical. hosseini was disappointing for me for several reasons... 1. this text and the kite runner are touted for their 'brave and unapologetic' look at the hidden lives of those suffering/maybe surviving in (the predominantly taliban-controlled era) afghanistan. whatever. this is the same story is the same story is the same story. i think the one woman even gets to paint a good story. it was easy to read and went really quickly. liberal white women will love this book. thank allah i'm an uptight radical. hosseini was disappointing for me for several reasons... 1. this text and the kite runner are touted for their 'brave and unapologetic' look at the hidden lives of those suffering/maybe surviving in (the predominantly taliban-controlled era) afghanistan. whatever. this is the same story is the same story is the same story. i think the one woman even gets to paint her fingernails in the end. the topic is not so tired but the way it's addressed is- woman sold/war-torn into abusive patriarchal muslim culture, woman persevere, woman get comeuppance. well, the young pretty one that is loved by another male character- but i'll attack that later. if mid-east gender injustice is your thing, read "woman at point zero" out of egypt by saadawi or watch "osama" about afghanistan. both of these address these topics in much more eloquent and interesting ways and without (or at least done better) the false feminism. 2. speaking of false feminism- this book is about women in relation to men. the plot and character development consistently rely on a male character. at one point it attempts to make the story about the relationship between the women, but, nope, back to relying on dudes. the women characters barely exist if it weren't for the men in their lives. boring. 3. it perfectly fits into the western literary canon. the narrative is linear and pov is labeled by chapter. it's been written for a western audience by a non-western author about a non-western topic, i want it to respect my intelligence and write in a non-western style. it lacks the cadence and artistic quality of middle eastern literature that makes these horrible stories alive and therefore devastating (as they should be). 4. the characters and their fates are generic and predictable. the story line follows popular heteronormative tropes about what is a worthwhile destiny and consequently a valuable life. one woman, mariam, is beheaded for killing her husband while trying to save the sister wife, laila. mariam is old, infertile, supposedly unattractive and up until this point has had no radical ideas of her own. laila however is young, beautiful, educated, fertile, rebellious, and has another man that she can run away with whom loves her. the sequence of events suggests to me the same old ideas about what is a livable and grievable life. boo. i don't like that this story tells me that this makes sense, that mariam has to die as a symbol because her life was recognized as less valuable and ergo less livable. i've dealt this book a good deal of hateration it might not totally deserve but i feel like if you're going to be hanging around the new york times book list you should live up to it. leave the western style to white dudes. um, but, good story though...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Kabul, Afghanistan One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls - Saib-e-Tabrizi I cannot write a proper review of this book. By the end, I was weeping so that it was difficult to see the words on the page, they swam before my eyes. I would stop, clear my eyes, stop crying, pick up the book and almost immediately proceed to cry again. I cannot remember the last time a book hit me at such an emotional level. I read Hosseini’s Kabul, Afghanistan One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls - Saib-e-Tabrizi I cannot write a proper review of this book. By the end, I was weeping so that it was difficult to see the words on the page, they swam before my eyes. I would stop, clear my eyes, stop crying, pick up the book and almost immediately proceed to cry again. I cannot remember the last time a book hit me at such an emotional level. I read Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed earlier this year and thought it an excellent work, and he an excellent writer. It was nothing compared to this. And, a bonus is that I came away feeling I have some deeper understanding of the people and the region for which so much American blood has been spilt. I am sure I could never look at the conflict or the people in a dispassionate way having read this heartfelt novel. I have had this book sitting on a table waiting to be the next book up for years. I put it on my challenge last year and it was the only book there that I did not complete. I have reached over it to grab lesser books and have no explanation for why. Don’t let this happen to you. If you have not read A Thousand Splendid Suns you are missing something important.

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