Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publisher: RiverHead Books
Copyright Date: 2007
A thousand splendid suns is a realistic fiction based on Hosseini’s trip to Afghanistan. The story is set in Afghanistan between the early 1960s to early 2000s. The central characters of the book are Mariam and Laila. Both from different backgrounds struggling to live in a male chauvinist society.
The book starts with a young girl named Mariam, who is an illegitimate child of Jalil, a wealthy cinema owner and his servant Nana. Mariam dislikes her mother’s strict ways and she only sees her father once a week. In the course of time she runs away, Nana commit suicide, Jalil and his wives decide Mariam’s fate and she finds herself married to a forty year old man named Rasheed who lived in Kabul.
In the streets of Kabul, second main character Laila, the youngest child and only daughter of Hakim (Babi) and Fariba (Mammy). Both of Laila’s older brothers have gone to war. Laila has a strong desire to use her intelligence and education to improve the world around her. Tariq, a boy living in her neighborhood and who is close friends with Laila. They eventually develop a romantic relationship despite being aware of the social boundaries between men and women in Afghan society. War comes to Afghanistan, and Kabul is bombarded by rocket attacks.
The outlook of the story switches between Mariam and Laila, which eventually bring them together, leading them to sacrifice for each other and trust one another as they struggle.
The book has several quests. A quest for destination, reason, and obstacles. At one point in the story Laila, Mariam, and Aziza (Laila’s daughter) planned to run away by bus from their husband Rasheed. They made an effort to travel away from him but the quest for freedom was denied when militiamen and the law of needing to travel with men stops them from accomplishing their quest.
Another evident quest, it’s when Laila wishes to see her daughter in orphanage. She time and again attempt to move stealthily to the orphanage. Many men hindered her path though and she would be beaten and sent home causing her to fail the quest.
The book is a difficult read emotionally as the author’s way of writing makes you feel the pain of leading characters. Mariam’s desolate and depressive state and her feelings of emptiness. Five stars on ratings for me. It is an emotional literature and it also graphically depict sexual relations. So if you are prompt by that kind of content, try to steer away from this book, or try to read the review instead, or at least skip over the parts that include it. The book also include social, moral, and political issues. It showcases the political power struggles between different forces in Afghanistan from 1960s to the 2000s.