January 2008Read the book on my way to Vietnam a few days ago Loved it, although it was missing a few pages here and there Coincidentally, the friend I m traveling with brought the same book on our trip so I had access to the missing pages And another coincidence our Mekong Delta guide was carrying a copy of the Kite Runner We were like some sort of Hosseini fanclub floating down the Mekong in our longboathaha I have a few thoughts on this book, I ll write them out in detail soon I m heading back to Bombay in a few daysmaybe I ll run into another bookseller on foot.
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 like people you d encounter in the real world, and flat ones being 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 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 insight into a culture I probably should know 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.
Like diamonds and roses hidden under bomb rubble, this is a story of intense beauty and strength buried under the surface of the cruel and capricious life imposed upon two Afghani womenShe remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she d said How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.
Staggeringly beautiful and deep and rich and sad and frightening and infuriating There s a lot I want to say about this book and so I cry your pardon if this review is a bit of a rambler You should definitely read this book I ll probably repeat this again, but I want to make sure I don t forget to say it Buy the book and read it.
I love good historical fiction, especially when set in places and or periods of which I am not very familiar Afghanistan certainly fit that description, which makes me feel a significant amount of personal shame given how intertwined the country has been with the history of the U.
S over the last 30 years That same time frame is also the primary focus of the novel so I feel like I got a real taste of the history of this mysterious time That said, the historical events described in the novel are merely spice for the narrative and are clearly not the entr e at this literary feast However, I would likely recommend this book for the historical component alone even if I didn t like the rest of the novel oh, but I did so much like the rest of the novel The story revolves around two women, Mariam and Laila, born 20 years apart, but whose lives are intertwined through the events of the novel Mariam born in 1959 is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy merchant named Jalil who has 3 wives and 9 legitimate children Mariam s mother, Nana, was a servant in Jalil s house whose affair with Jalil resulted in Mariam As you might expect, the 3 wives were less than enthused and Nana and Mariam were forced to live on the outskirts of town, making Nana a bitter often cruel person to Mariam The other main character is Laila born in 1978 who lives in the same area as Mariam Laila s story begins with her close friendship with a boy named Tariq who loses a leg to a Soviet land mine when he s 5 years old Years later, with Kabul under constant rocket attacks, Laila s family decides to leave the city During an emotional farewell, Laila and Tariq make love Later, as her family is preparing to depart Kabul, a rocket kills her parents and severely injures Laila I don t want to spoil the plot by giving away too many details, so let me just say that through a series of mostly tragic circumstances, Mariam and Laila both end up married to a serious scumbag named Rasheed I want to clarify that last remark because I think it goes to the most chilling aspect of the novel for me One of the novel s primary strengths is the bright light the author shines on the nasty way women are treated in countries like Afghanistan Now not being knowledgeable enough about the culture to make a well informed analysis, I strongly suspect that the character of Rasheed, while made somewhat worse for dramatic effect, is close enough to what was the norm as to be positively sickening Thus, when I say scumbag which I whole heartedly mean , part of the emotional impact of Rasheed s actions came from my not seeing them as cartoonish, but as part of an institutional evil that was all too common Bottom line, Rasheed is an ignorant, mean spirited, petty little pile of assbarf who will make even the most serene and passive reader feel like loading the.
45 with hollow points and performing a gunpowder enema on his sorry, wretched chair cushion Anyway, once Mariam and Laila find themselves together, the story deepens as these two women slowly learn first to live with each other and later to depend upon each other as they face almost daily challenges, mostly from their abusive husband She lived in fear of his shifting moods, his volatile temperament, his insistence on steering even mundane exchanges down a confrontational path that, on occasion, he would resolve with punches, slaps, kicks, and sometimes try to make amends for with polluted apologies, and sometimes notThe lives of these women is an epic journey in every sense of the word and I felt like I was on a journey of my own as I road along with them While there is much of darkness and pain throughout the book, Hosseini never allows the emotional tone of the story to descend in melodrama There is little self pity or wallowing in grief There is pain, there is loss but there is no surrender Instead, these women absorb tremendous blows both figuratively and literally and continue to live There is a great passage near the end of the book that I am going to hide with a spoiler because it reveals the final fate of one of the characters, but it is simply a perfect summation of the strength and dignity that is the heart of this story view spoilerMariam wished for so much in those final moments Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident A weed And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian A mother A person of consequence at last No It was not so bad, Mariam thought, that she should die this way Not so bad This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings.
hide spoiler 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 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 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.
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 s 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 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.
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.
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 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 of my agenda into the characters conversation or introspection, or maybe structure the plot around it a little 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 A Thousand Splendid Suns Is A Breathtaking Story Set Against The Volatile Events Of Afghanistan S Last Thirty Years From The Soviet Invasion To The Reign Of The Taliban To Post Taliban Rebuilding That Puts The Violence, Fear, Hope, And Faith Of This Country In Intimate, Human Terms It Is A Tale Of Two Generations Of Characters Brought Jarringly Together By The Tragic Sweep Of War, Where Personal Lives The Struggle To Survive, Raise A Family, Find Happiness Are Inextricable From The History Playing Out Around ThemPropelled By The Same Storytelling Instinct That Made The Kite Runner A Beloved Classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns Is At Once A Remarkable Chronicle Of Three Decades Of Afghan History And A Deeply Moving Account Of Family And Friendship It Is A Striking, Heart Wrenching Novel Of An Unforgiving Time, An Unlikely Friendship, And An Indestructible Love A Stunning Accomplishment Front Flap A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns is a 2007 novel by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini It is his second, following his bestselling 2003 debut, The Kite Runner Mariam is an illegitimate child, and suffers from both the stigma surrounding her birth along with the abuse she faces throughout her marriage Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam s husband 2007 2008 1386 461 9789647425384 21 1387 488 9789648155297 1386 451 9789648831879 1387 1388 1389 1393 428 9786005205503 1394 407 9786009484492 1386 464 9789641740070 1387 1386 433 9789643623920 1389 487 9789642911158 1386 447 9789642981038 1389 320 9789642569939 1386 432 9789643285623