“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” How can one not possible fall in love with Khaled Hosseini’s words that depict his sheer love for his homeland, Afghanistan in all of the three amazing novels he has written so far. Like his best-selling masterpiece “A Kite Runner”, that I’ll never get tired of reading, his second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns” did not cease to amaze me either. No one portrays the rich culture, customs, beauty, misfortunes and tragedy that surrounds the exotic country of Afghanistan than Khaled Hosseini himself.
“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is… well, splendid, really. Laced with the intricately detailed story of two tough Afghan Women, born and raised in radically different walks of life in Kabul, this novel delicately sheds light on the issue that has pertained in the war-torn country of Afghanistan since too long; that of oppression of women and terrorism. Hosseini truly does justice in writing about the social injustices that took root in the Afghan culture, even before war came, all the while revealing all that’s rich, beautiful and unique, associated with his motherland.
The novel plot’s follow the lives of Mariam and Laila; the former who was born an illegitimate child to a wealthy businessman, who grew up in the hopes of getting accepted by the society, witnessed her mother’s suicide on her birthday, got married to a vicious man thirty years older than him and suffered domestic abuse that left her hopeless. Laila, on the other hand is born in a nearly-perfect family, if there ever was one when war started taking its toll on the people of Afghanistan. Sharing her father’s love for books and education, her world revolved around going to school, studying, dreaming but most of all spending time with her childhood best friend ‘Tariq’, who to no one’s surprise, really, turned out to be the love of her life. If there is one aspect common in Hosseini’s novels is that life always changes in the most drastic way possible for the main characters. In this case, it was when the Afghan Mujahedeen factions turned against each other, civil war broke out, claiming the lives of Laila’s parents and brothers, leaving her a helpless orphan and as ‘fate’ or ‘kismet’ would have it, she ends up getting married, in her teens to, guess whose husband? Why of course, Mariam’s husband ‘Rasheed’! To say that the extensive plot has way more twists and climaxes that can be anticipated, would be an understatement of its own but the story as whole is heartbreakingly beautiful indeed.
Unveiling the depths of terror and the Taliban’s atrocities in Afghanistan, especially on women, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is all about the main characters’ struggle to seek their identities and rights in a male-dominated and terror-stricken society, all the while testing their own strengths and courage for the sake of their children and the hope of a better life. For all those, who can’t wait to divulge in a compelling, soul-stirring novel (and shed some tears along the way too), this one would definitely pass for a top recommendation, if not a must-read.