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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniKhaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan in 1965 but has lived in the United States since the age of 15. Both of his first two novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns turned out to be international best sellers. The Kite Runner alone has sold in excess of 12 million copies.

Hosseini’s ability to weave a great story into the tragic background of Afghanistan’s recent past, serves as an excellent way for us to learn more of how the turmoil in this country affects the lives of its ordinary people.

Read on for a full review….

-- A Thousand Splendid Suns a Review by Molly Lundquist --

Khaled Hosseini writes with power and surety, producing another best seller with A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is his second novel, following close upon the heels of The Kite Runner, and like the earlier book deals with the troubled history and people of Afghanistan.

Two women, Mariam and Laila, a generation apart, are thrown together under painful circumstances. (What in this country isn’t painful, especially for its women?) Tyrannized by those who hold dominion over them, the two women eventually find common cause and unite to face their enemies.

Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a prosperous businessman, is married off in to Rasheed, a Kabul shoemaker. She is only 15. But when it becomes apparent over the years that Mariam will never produce a male heir, Rasheed’s domination over his wife escalates into verbal and physical brutality.

Enter Laila, a girl of 14. It is now the early 1990’s, after the Soviets have left the country and the mujahideen are fighting for control of the country. Laila, whose parents are killed in a rocket attack, is given aid by Mariam and Rasheed. It becomes clear to Rasheed, however, that this girl will be the one to bear him a son. And so at the age of 60, Rasheed takes Laila as his second wife, bringing her into the household.

The two women balance an uneasy relationship as Laila tries to break through Mariam’s resentment. Laila bears two children, the first a girl, whom Rasheed, in time, comes to understand is not his own. The second child is a boy, but his birth gives neither Laila nor Mariam respite from Rasheed’s brutality. By now the Taliban are in control, Rasheed becomes increasingly frenzied, and life’s hardships are more desperate than before.

The novel’s heart is the gradual bonding of Laila, the girl-mother, and Mariam, an older woman. Hosseini writes poignantly, giving voice to his two female characters-a remarkable accomplishment for any male author. What follows is devastating. Yet Hosseini is unflinching in his desire to remind us not only of his characters’ tragic lives, but also of their strength and capacity to sacrifice for those they love.

While some criticism has centered on the book’s melodrama-characters too good or evil to be believable-the power of Hosseini’s writing is his ability to illuminate and make readers care. This is a book that brings immediacy to the story of people’s lives in a remote yet vital part of the world.

Molly Lundquist is owner of LitLovers, an online resource for book clubs and solo readers. LitLovers brings together Molly’s life-long love of reading, writing, and teaching. The website includes a large list of in-depth reading guides, book recommendations and reviews, free online literature courses, international book club recipes, and plenty of “how-to” tips for book clubs, including tips for kids book clubs.

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  1. aakanksha says:

    Hey, This is an excellent review. You have brilliantly summarized the book and written about the writing style as well. I also loved the book a lot!

    1. Des says:

      Hi Aakanksha, glad you also enjoyed the book. The excellent review was written by Molly Lundquist, and I agree she has summed it up beautifully.

      Thanks for visiting,

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