A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini (Review)


Five years ago I read The Kite Runner (also by Hosseini) whilst studying for my English Literature A Level, and I loved it. I loved it so much that when I saw A Thousand Splendid Suns in Waterstones, I bought it and vowed I would read it after I had finished whatever novel I was reading at the time - as you can probably guess, that did not happen. I didn't read it until almost three years later (last week) and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I loved it so much that I have been recommending it to everyone, including my mum; she never usually pays attention when I am gushing about books, but for some reason she listened this time and she loved it too. Go mum!

What is it about?
Over the course of this novel, we see how Afghanistan and it's residents are changed over thirty years. It starts in the time of peace and follows fifteen-year-old Mariam as her life changes: she moves from Herat to Kabul where she meets tragedy after tragedy. From the death of her mother to the murder of her strict husband, Mariam becomes a victim; a victim in a world where women are at the bottom of a downtrodden society. It isn't until some time later when Mariam strikes a friendship with a local teenager that her life begins to change again, and the pair of them work together to achieve the freedom they deserve.

My Thoughts
I love this novel for many reasons: The story, Hosseini's incomparable writing style, the vivid use of description and plot devices, the way he uses Pashto/Farsi amongst the English narrative (including the different dialects) but most importantly, I love it because by following the life of Mariam, we inadvertently come into contact with, and absorb the modern history of Afghanistan - a theme that is present throughout many of his novels.  I know more about the wars of Afghanistan after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, and the Kite Runner, than I have from news broadcasts, documentaries, and even school. And with learning, comes understanding. If more people were to actually know what was happening in the Middle East, there would be a greater understanding of why we need to help not hate.

Another reason why I love this novel is because I FINALLY managed to put my English Literature A Level to good use, and come up with a half decent analyzation of the novel as a whole --- At the beginning of the novel Mariam's mother tells her how a woman's life is about enduring the pressures of man, to which is echoed throughout the novel - not only in her characters but within the countries history: If a country is often referred to as 'she' and the humans are known as 'man', Mariam's mother is foreshadowing Afghanistan's endurance towards mankind. A Thousand Splendid Suns isn't just about the struggles of women in a crumbling nation, it's about the strength of a country, and how it helps that crumbling nation.

Should you read this book?
If only to educate yourself about the tragedies and hardships Afghanistan has endured, then you must read it, although, across it's 402 pages you will find one the most beautifully written stories, about family, friendship, and love.

For fans of:
The Kite Runner, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I'll Give You The Sun

I'd love to know what you thought of this book, or if you plan on reading it. It has quickly become one of my favourites, so I'd love to talk to some of you about it!

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