A Thousand Splendid Suns

Read the above book before I left for Canada, all the while thinking I could be reading this book while on the plane. It turns out the story was so well written, that I finished it way earlier even before I left for Jakarta. This novel is written by Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini, and tells the intertwined story of 2 girls in Afghanistan.

A Thousand Splendid Suns Book Cover
A Thousand Splendid Suns Book Cover

The story begins with the 1st female lead in early 1970s Afghanistan when the country was still ruled under a monarch and the country was a peaceful and serene place. It depicts the life of Afghans during the time and reminds of my literature read during my secondary school days – ‘Village by the Sea’ by Anita Desai. From page one, the author pens a sad story for the young protagonist and details the circumstances for a female child born out of wedlock. From there, the tale proceeds of her marriage to another part of Afghanistan, and how women follow the husband in this male-dominated society.

One might think that it is relatively boring with all these romance and sadness in the story, but in fact, it is refreshing for it includes snippets of non-fiction in the form of historical accounts of what happens to Afghanistan in the turbulent 70s and 80s. Being an Afghan, the writer also puts in the emotions of his countrymen and women during the time. By standing neutral in his position, the author provides an unbiased insight on what led to the present state of Afghanistan. While in the late 70s, the story introduces the 2nd female character and her tale is as sad as the 1st female lead. Eventually these 2 female characters bond and became friends through chance. By introducing the 2nd character here, the author have inadvertently created more ‘thrill’ and pushes the reader to root for these 2 characters in their times of adversity and feel their pain in times of their sufferings under the Taliban rule.

In the last segment of the story, especially, one will start to feel sorry for the women in Afghanistan. However the greatness of this book doesn’t come from the emotions that is pushed out but rather by the meaning of sacrifice, perseverance and justice in the ending chapters. And all at the same time, the author provides a fresh perspective into the history of his home nation as well as a greater understanding of the politics of Central Asia. Overall a good read for those looking to know more about the country and enjoy reading a great book!

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