A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Kahled Hosseini. Published 2007, Riverhead Books. 372 pages.
Beautiful, heartbreaking, savage. A Thousand Splendid Suns is the interwoven story of two Afghani women in Kabul during the height of violence in the 80s and 90s. Any more than that will be a disservice to the story. I personally didn’t have much knowledge of Afghanistan before I read this novel but I was so captivated by the picture Hosseini painted I was compelled to discover more. His Afghanistan is lovely, and cruel, but uniquely home to its characters, so much so that they can’t let it go.
That’s something I can relate to.
A lot of reservation surrounding this novel is that people fear it won’t be as good as The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s novel of similar circumstance yet different subject. I haven’t read it, so my view is completely unbiased. It does make me want to read it, though.
Ultimately, I was so involved in the story I wasn’t paying much attention to the overall thematic arc. Part of the beauty of Hosseini’s storytelling, however, is that it snuck in between the words and pages. As strong as the storytelling is, there is the undeniable social and political commentary that comes along with this novel. It’s almost downright educational in nature, providing a complex view of the struggle of modern Afghanistan and the parties involved.
Often I would find myself reading a passage somewhere on campus and struggle to keep my composure. It’s not fun to cry in public, but I am definitely a crier and there were times I had to close to book and take a break. I won’t get into narrative spoilers here, but there are parts that are hard to read. Sometimes you can feel it coming, a terrifying suspicion, and other times it catches you off guard.
This is a book about love. The kind you glue together from the broken pieces smashed on the floor, the kind you stitch together and prick your fingers with. Unyielding, because in Hosseini’s Afghanistan, you either yield or perish.