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A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (3 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Published : 2008

Copyright : Khaled Hosseini 2007

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7475-8589-X
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-59448-385-1

Publisher's Write-Up

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry the troubled and bitter Rasheed, who is thirty years her senior. Nearly two decades later, in a climate of growing unrest, tragedy strikes fifteen-year-old Laila, who must leave her home and join Mariam's unhappy household. Laila and Mariam are to find consolation in each other, their friendship to grow as deep as the bond between sisters, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. With the passing of time comes Taliban rule over Afghanistan, the streets of Kabul loud with the sound of gunfire and bombs, life a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear, the women's endurance tested beyond their worst imaginings. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism. In the end it is love that triumphs over death and destruction. A Thousand Splendid Suns is an unforgettable portrait of a wounded country and a deeply moving story of family and friendship. It is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely bond and an indestructible love.

About the Author:
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and moved to the United States in 1980. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, published in thirty-four countries. In 2006 he was named a US goodwill envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. He lives in northern California.

'Hosseini is at his best in some of his description of the landscape and his account of the developing relationship of the two wives, which begins with hostility and slowly blossoms into a concord...'


'The novel offers extraordinarily harrowing insights into the lives of Afghan women over the past three decades... If he cut his teeth by writing about his countrymen, it is the plight of Afghanistan's women that has brought him to realise his full powers as a novelist.'

The Times

'Anyone whose heart-strings were pulled by The Kite Runner should
be more than satisfied with this follow-up.'

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Hidayah Ismawi (310811) Rating (8/10)
Review by Mihir (310811) Rating (9/10)
Review by Maia Sherwood Rogers (310711) Rating (9/10)

Review by Hidayah Ismawi
Rating 8/10
A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in Afghanistan and tells a tale of two girls, with lives so different and yet destined to be intertwined. Mariam is a ‘harami’, an illegitimate daughter of a well-off cinema owner in Herat. By birth she is an outcast, though her optimistic nature fails to entrap her in the lowly stature that society had decreed for her. A tragic event sends her to Kabul, where life only gets harder. Laila is a carefree girl of cultured parentage who spends most days with her best friend Tariq. Soon, their playground turns into a war-zone and Laila loses everything only to find strength in someone who has carried more than her fair share of burdens.

What I liked about this book:
Undeniably Khaled Hossaini is a great story teller. His depictions of Afghanistan and his characters bring them to life for the reader.

What I disliked about the book:
With this book it was not so much of dislike, it was an emotionally trying book to read. It saddened me to read the trials and tribulations that these two women had to endure (even though it was fictional). I found the storyline to be very depressing. Even the tiny pearls of hope scattered across the plot was not enough to take the heaviness of the subject matter at hand. Personally, I preferred The Kite Runner, though tragic in itself, that book had peaks and valleys as opposed to this one which just seems like an endless field of sorrow.

A quote I liked from this book:
"Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman."
Hidayah Ismawi (31st August 2011)

Review by Mihir
Rating 9/10
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini is a startling book. The writer of bestseller book The Kite Runner is a great fiction writer and definitely knows how to make a book un-put-downable. Born and raised in Afghanistan he tells the story of his war-torn land with great touching and heart-wrecking story. In this book, he has encompassed history of soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, mujahedeen war against soviets which oust soviets from Afghanistan in 1989, period of anarchy post soviet war and to the brutal fundamentalist Taliban's regime. It is story about two women, Mariam and Laila. Their worlds are significantly different to a highest degree. But both endure unimaginable grief.

There are several parts in the book. First part begins with the Mariam's story. She lives in 'Kolba' on the outskirts of Herat city with her mother. She was born out of wedlock. She eagerly waits for every Thursday for Jalil, her father, to visit her in Kolba. Because of the 'Nang and Namoos' (honour and pride) of the afghan culture Jalil neither live with Mariam nor take her to his place. But Mariam craves for fathers love. Author brilliantly describes how innocent Mariam wish to live with her step brothers and sisters. When she is around 15, she is forced to marry a cruel 45 year old men 'Rasheed'.

Second part deals with the story of Laila, a 9 year old girl who lives near Mariam in Kabul. It is unimaginable at this part of novel to contemplate how their lives will change. In third part their stories converge. Their life changes from hatred to a lovely mother-daughter relation. How they survive against all the insurmountable grief and tribulations is mind boggling.

A Thousand Splendid Suns starts in the 1960s and ends in 2003. Agony, affection, love, hope, strength and self-sacrifice in atrocious times are the backdrops of the book. This book is great way to comprehend how life was during the soviet led war in Afghanistan, then under warlords and lastly during the Taliban regime.

It is a very good reading. Story stays in your mind even weeks after you complete the book.

In the book, there is one quote lines from a 17th Century poem by Saib-e-Tabrizi in praise of Kabul which gives you Goosebumps : "One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls." Truly splendid. Must read for everyone.
Mihir (31st August 2011)

Review by Maia Sherwood Rogers
Rating 9/10
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a book by Khaled Hosseini. I found this book emotionally captivating and also a real eye opener, I had never before truly understood the hardship of female life under Taliban rule.

The book is all about a friendship between Lailia and Mariam, stronger than mother and daughter and what you will risk for your loved ones. It starts of by following Mariam, 15 being married off when her mother hangs herself. She is taken away to Kabul to live with a man over double her age. She was mistreated and lived a depressing life. The book then switches to Laila who also has huge losses in her life: her parents and brothers killed. These two women form the strongest of friendships that will make you cry on many occasions. It is a book you can read and re read it again and be moved every single time.

A stunningly written book I would give it 9/10 and definitely recommend it to everyone.
Maia Sherwood Rogers (31st July 2011)

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