Reviewed by SALMA SHICKH
The second novel by Khaled Hosseini, “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, dwells into the hardships faced by women in times of hostility, from their perspective. A truly splendid book, it tells the tale of two generations of women brought together by the tragedies and horrors of war. The novel is based in the 1960s and 1970s in Afghanistan, a time when the country was still enjoying relative peace and prosperity. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the only images of this once flourishing land we have been exposed to are those of death and violence. Photographs of wounded and orphaned children, burning homes and ravaged streets fill television screens and newspapers. Since the invasion, Afghanistan has been only associated with terrorism and war.
“Since the invasion, Afghanistan has been only associated with terrorism and war. This story, however, gives us new insight into the country’s beautiful culture and amazing history that many of us are completely ignorant of.”
This story, however, gives us new insight into the country’s beautiful culture and amazing history that many of us are completely ignorant of. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” begins with the life of Mariam, a young girl growing up with a single and bitter mother in the small village outside of Herat. Although Mariam’s father is a wealthy man, he has completely abandoned her, choosing instead to live with his three wives and their children in a lavish home in Herat.
Soon, we are introduced to another girl, Laila, who grows up with an open-minded father, and a mother who is barely aware of her existence. Following the Soviet defeat, a civil war breaks out, resulting in Kabul being showered with rockets, destroying its ancient bridges and buildings, and breaking apart many families permanently. Before long, the lives of Laila and Mariam intertwine, friendships form, innocence is lost, and lives are changed forever.
This story will give you moments of laughter, tears, and most of all, a love for the culture of a beautiful country forgotten in war. Overall, it was a great read. The only setback was the unfamiliarity with several terms in the book if you are unfamiliar with the Afghan culture. However, if you enjoyed “The Kite Runner” then you will definitely love this one!
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