Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

The media can be a beguiling lot. It’s strange how the simplest of events are twisted into stories that convey the opposite, and which is why what you see on the news is really not what really happened – just some sensationalized version.

Of course, a lot of people buy into the crap because of the intensity with which it is conveyed. It’s anything but the ‘fourth estate of democracy’, you know. Just a medium which feeds us stuff that we want to hear.

It’s always interesting to see a country or individual demonized by the media while the truth is actually something else. It always is.

And despite the attacks on the Twin Towers, there are good people who hail from Afghanistan. After all, they’re human too. Fathers, sons, mothers and daughters… relationships that have portrayed so beautifully in Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns”.


The Plight of Afghan Women… and True Love

Hosseini’s first book, The Kite Runner, was about a father and son’s relationship. However, it was a decade ago when the idea of writing about a mother and daughter relationship (of sorts!) or friendships between them occurred to the good doctor.

A visit to Kabul amplified this desire to craft a story about the women of Afghanistan, and in the case of the book, Mariam and Laila.

The timeline of the story of the book runs for almost 30 years, which includes the Soviet invasion to the rise of the Taliban regime and after their fall as well. It gives the reader a lot of insight into the lives of people living in Afghanistan, and helps one to understand the situation they find themselves in.

If there’s anything that comes to mind when it comes to this nation, it is called the graveyard of empires, and which is clearly reflected in this book along with the oppressive practices that are inflicted upon women.

Some of these include not being able to gain an education, having to wear a burqa when they go out and being abused by their husbands – in this case, Rasheed, who cannot become a father, thanks to Mariam’s inability to bear a child. In the case of Laila, who becomes his second wife, she bears someone else’s child but this is something that doesn’t sit well with Rasheed for obvious reasons.

The book also present an honest picture of Afghanistan during each of these eras – how people lived from day to day is illuminated in the novel, and in some cases, might be a shock for those who don’t know anything about the country except for the reports of war and turmoil that the media feeds us with from time to time.

It’s a moving story – a story of everyday people like you and me, trying to survive in unforgiving times.

But if there’s anything that the book emphasizes in the end, it is about the power of love and friendship as well as the bond between two women from different generations who find solace in each other – despite the harsh times they live in.


In Closing

No matter how you look at it, it’s a book that any sensitive individual would like to read. It’s not an entertaining story or one with fluff. It’s the reality that the people of Afghanistan live with from day to day – not the distorted one that some people would have you believe.

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