A Thousand Splendid Suns is a dazzling masterpiece by Khaled Hosseini, an Afghan-American author. It is Hosseini’s second novel, following his bestselling debut, The Kite Runner.
The story of A Thousand Splendid Suns revolves around the lives of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila. Though they are born 20 years apart, their lives are intertwined through the stormy events of the book. Together they fight against all odds, after having faced them courageously.
Hosseini’s book thoroughly depicts the helplessness, hardships, and suppression that women face in a patriarchal society. In this post, I’m going to share with you my review of Khaled Hosseini’s outstanding work, A Thousand Splendid Suns. But before this I’ll let you know a brief summary of the book so that you’ll have a clear understanding.
Basic Details About ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini
Released on: May 22, 2007
Suitable for Age Group: 14 and above
My Rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Domestic and Historical Fiction
Total Pages: 432
A Thousand Splendid Suns: Summary
A Thousand Splendid Suns begins with Mariam (born in 1959) who is an illegitimate child of Jalil and Nana. Jalil is a wealthy cinema owner. While Nana was a servant in Jalil’s house whose affair with him resulted in Mariam. Since Jalil has three wives and nine “legitimate” children, he casts Nana and Mariam out to live in a small shack outside the city of Herat in Afghanistan. This makes Nana a bitter, often cruel person to Mariam. She frequently reminds her that she is a ‘harami’, an illegitimate child.
Jalil visits Mariam only once a week. She adores her father but resents her limited place in his life. Mariam wants to live with Jalil and makes her wishes known by asking him to take her to the cinema on her fifteenth birthday. But Jalil does not fulfill his promise. As a result, Mariam goes to Jalil’s house, but he doesn’t let her in and she sleeps outside. The next morning, Jalil’s chauffeur drives Mariam home where she discovers that Nana has committed suicide. After Nana’s funeral, Jalil takes Mariam to his home.
The Second Main Character of the Book
The other protagonist of the book is Laila (born in 1978) who lives in the same area as Mariam. Laila is a young, smart girl from an adoring family. Her story begins with her close friendship with Tariq, a boy who loses a leg to a Soviet land mine when he’s merely five years old. As opposed to Mariam’s family, Laila is encouraged to have education and always stand up for herself.
Years later, the living conditions become difficult for everyone in Kabul. Laila’s family decides to leave the city and Tariq’s family also decides to move to Pakistan. During an emotional farewell, Tariq and Laila break their boundaries and make love. Later, as Laila’s family is preparing to leave Kabul, a rocket hits her home and she is the only survivor of the attack, though severely injured.
I don’t intend to spoil the story by giving away too many details, so let me just say that through a series of tragic circumstances, both Mariam and Laila end up married to an ignorant, mean-spirited fundamentalist named Rasheed. Once two women find themselves together, the story deepens. They gradually 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.
A Thousand Splendid Suns: Review
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini is a historical fiction telling a haunting, heartbreaking, and compelling tale of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love. The book tells the love story of Laila and Tariq, the story of Mariam’s sacrifice, and the story of cruelty and violence of Rasheed.
The plot of A Thousand Splendid Suns weaves the turbulent events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban reconstruction— through an intensely captivating tale of family, friendship, and hope. The book unfolds a powerful story of two generations of women brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives become inextricable from the history playing out around them.
Mariam and Laila are two lovely girls who have grown up very differently from each other, but both facing their own share of loss and grief. Mariam suffers from the disgrace surrounding her birth along with the abuse her forced marriage brings in her life. However, Laila enjoys a comparatively privileged childhood and youth until their lives intersect. When Laila learns that Tariq has died and she is pregnant with his child, she has no other choice than to accept Rasheed’s hand in marriage. When the fate of these two different women meet, they initially hate each other and then become allies in the fight against a brutal husband and a war-torn, women-oppressive society.
A Thousand Splendid Suns: Major Themes and Conflicts
The themes of the novel are male dominance, female subjugation, forced marriage, religious war, extremism, love, and betrayal. With all the outside battles and violent killing, there is torture, violence, and internal conflict going on in the lives of the protagonists as well. There is one man who takes away the happiness of both women and that is Rasheed, an extremely cruel and wicked person. Mariam and Laila go through so much and ultimately find happiness in each other and their little ones.
What do I like and feel about ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini?
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini is filled with beautifully descriptive prose and fleshed out characters. The story is well-crafted. I love the way the writer keeps his readers on toes throughout the book. While reading Hosseini’s book, there wasn’t a single moment when I lost my interest. The compelling story of the book kept me looking forward until I found myself reading the last page.
The author has explained the defeated fate of geography in a most captivating way, while mastering the intersectional life of two women. This attribute of the book made me feel all the weight of the war and, at the same time, also admire the women’s struggle for life. The book was really a page-turner for me. However, at times it was extremely hard for me to read some paragraphs because of the horrible things that happened during the wars in Afghanistan. The book also contains some very descriptive passages of domestic violence, rape, strangulation, and other horrific abuse. From the horrors of abuse to the horrors of war, this book hardly leaves any dark part of human nature unexplored. All this was too difficult to read and digest. But at the same time, I could not resist myself from reading the story.
There is no doubt that A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a book that you can read without giving up and in some sentences you can’t move from the weight of emotion. And no matter how much I write, I’m sure that my words will be lacking the praise and attention the book really deserves. It is a book that ripped my heart out and made it bleed.
I extremely love A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and highly recommend it to everyone.
It is heartbreaking, heartwarming, and amazing. It is a book I think should be an obligatory read for everyone who is privileged to live in a peaceful country.
Just read it. You’ll surely find it one of the best books ever read.
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