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Monday, December 22, 2014

A Thousand Splendid Suns (By Khaled Hosseini): Book Review

Buy it online on Flipkart.

A moving story about two women who share a relationship which can be described as mother-daughter, best friends, love-rivals (being married to the same man) and more. Mariam and Laila are heroines in the true sense of the word despite the abuse they put up with. Set in the backdrop of the socio-political changes that have completely altered Afghanistan, this one is another gem from the author of the best seller 'The Kite Runner'. It describes in striking details how war or social unrest affects the plight of women and children.

It starts on a relatively calm note. An illegitimate child or a 'harami' who lives on the outskirts of society looks forward to the monthly visits of her father whom she idolizes. In a strange turn of events, her father's spinelessness is revealed when her mother commits suicide and she is forced to marry a much older guy Rashid.

This guy too has a past of his own and one almost feels sorry for him until he starts to reveal his chauvinistic side. "A woman's face is her husband's business". Things get worse when she suffers the first miscarriage and then disintegrate further as there follows a series of those. Domestic violence rears it ugly head but the stoic Marian takes everything in her stride and shoulders on.

Laila on the other hand, has a more privileged and protected childhood. Her father is a teacher and an intellectual and she grows up in a rather liberal atmosphere. Her life is shattered by the sudden death of her brothers and a rocket attack that kills both her parents. Deeply in love with a neighborhood boy (and pregnant with his child), she is then forced to join Mariam's household. Another negative characteristic of Rashid is revealed at this point as he manipulates the fifteen year old into marrying him. A lot of intriguing events take place before the climax (which is a happy ending for those who really want to know). Most noteworthy however is initial skirmish between the two woman (which remind one of the MIL & DIL clash in the Indian telly soaps) and the failed escape bid of the two women and the repercussions that follow. I am not going to reveal more and spoil what can be the perfect read during the Christmas and New Year vacations (if you are the type who prefers to chill out with a book rather then party all night).

'A Thousand Splendid Suns' outraged my sensibilities, made me cry and yet having read the last page, it lit something akin to the glimmer of hope in my heart. Sorry, but you cannot just close this book and get it out of your mind for it continues to haunt you for days to come.


  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of the best books that I have ever read in my life. I bow down to Khaled Hosseini in respect and admiration for the wonderful story that he has written.

    This book is a beautiful, heart-wrenching and heart-warming depiction of the power of hope, faith and love. It tugged at my heartstrings in a way I never thought possible. I had never felt so numb in my life as I had felt after I completed reading the book. This story is going to stay with me FOREVER; it is so enriching that I now know the real meaning of sacrifice. This book has a lovely soul - no frills and fancies or sappiness or nonsense, just a simply story which INHERENTLY has the power to appeal to the reader.

    If one wants to read a love story, one should read this book and not the crap from the likes of Ravinder Singh, Tushar Raheja, Rahul Saini, Durjoy Dutta or Ruchita Misra.

    Khaled Hosseini, you are a master story teller. And Mariam is the epitome of faith, love, and sacrifice. Every character has been so perfectly etched out in this book that after a point of time, they no longer seem fictional, it's as if one is not reading a story, rather one is a part of the story.

    As I read in the book, the story is indeed 'bursting with the radiance of a thousand splendid suns'.

    1. I would not dare to compare Hosseini with these Indian writers....


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