Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

All this time I thought Khaled is some old writer. Did you? Until I Googled him, and whoa! He’s nothing close to the old I was thinking. I bet it’s because of what he writes about, and the stories dating back. It would make you think he’s been in existence for a minute, if you know what I mean. In my last review, I said I was late to the party – the one where I was almost the only one who hadn’t read a Khaled Hosseini book. Mainly because when we talk interesting books with my friends, Khaled Hosseini always pops up. I think that’s reason enough to feel like I am missing out – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is everywhere, even in good reads.

Good Reads, Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Book Review

I decided to start with ‘A thousand Splendid Suns’ and it was worth the pick. I enjoyed every bit of the book, mainly because he decided to look at it from a cultural and family perspective, plugging in bits of the war and leadership (I was pretty much floating on some parts). Different cultures exist in different regions of the world and when someone is able to bring it out in a novel, it’s quite intriguing. And that’s what Khaled did with this book. He made you feel like you’re ducking bombs with them during the war or like you were with Miriam and Laila as Rasheed’s rolled down punches and thrashed them with his belt.

I’ve especially been curious about Afghanistan and its surroundings especially after the civil war. Its involvement with the west, the military – it makes you wonder how people survived and continue to live in constant fear. Is it that they exaggerate it in the news and in the movies? Is it just one region or is it all over? Questions I ask myself.

You can read the summary here, but I’d suggest you read the book first. Because it would preempt the suspense it causes and you won’t find it as intriguing. In this book, he mainly focuses on the life of two women – Miriam and Laila. The story of their lives, how they come from two different lifestyles and generations, but eventually found themselves in a situation that sets them on the same platter. Where they’re faced by similar challenges as women in the same cultural setting. Their story is marked by death, loss and unimaginable grief. It shows that not everyone is fortunate enough to live a life that’s free of hardships. It was a culture where women were dis-empowered, it was basically a man’s world back then. From;

  • Being made to wear a burqa – an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public even when it’s boiling hot out there.
  • Forced marriage – their parents arranged marriages for the women at such a young age – Miriam was married off at 15 years. So they didn’t have the pleasure of getting into marriage out of love.
  • Right to Education and Work – During the civil war, women/girls were denied to the right to attend school or work to earn a living. It was the husband who went out to look for work and fend for them.
  • Lack of freedom to move around – they had a set curfews and women weren’t allowed to go anywhere if not in the presence of a male – and if married, the husband.
  • Mistreatment – It’s like women could be whooped just because. Domestic violence was tolerated, because it’s the man who had the say.

However, despite these challenges Khaled brings out the aspect that in the end friendships and love rules. Also, that despite having such strong cultural ties and grief, things still work out eventually, even if not in the way you had anticipated.That despite the hardships, you still survive and learn to move on.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book;

“Boys treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed, its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly.”

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

“…Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways and move them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.”

“And that, is the story of our country, one invasion after another… Macedonians. Saddanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we’re like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing.”

I have it on soft copy and wouldn’t mind sharing with someone that’s interested and is not able to get the hard copy at the book store. Share your email and I’ll pass it over.

Current Read: Living in your top 1% by Alissa Finerman. It’s a different kind of book, not my usual cup of tea. It was a gift that remained unread for quite a while, and I felt now is the right time to read it. Sometimes you have to wait and have the feels, because that’s when it will make sense.

Happy Reading Loves!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*