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January 12, 2016

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

 

Review:  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

After 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies of The Kite Runner shipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today.

Propelled by the same superb instinct for storytelling that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Published by: Riverhead Books  on May 22, 2007

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Gabby-2013Where can I even begin when it comes to A Thousand Splendid Suns? This is a novel that blew me away. This is a novel that wrenched on my heart from the very beginning. This is a stunning novel that I finished in one sitting and left me covered in tears. This is a novel that I won’t soon forget. From start to finish, everything about A Thousand Splendid Suns is captivating and brilliant and if you haven’t had the opportunity to give it a read, then you’re really missing out on something great.

Set in Afghanistan, Mariam is only a young teenager when she is married off by her father to a man more than twice her age, Rasheed. For Mariam, the guilt and nervousness that she experiences in the early days of her marriage are nothing in comparison to the darker, abusive days that follow. In her same neighborhood, a baby girl named Laila is born. For Laila, her innocent childhood revolves around a country torn by war. Alongside her childhood best friend, Tariq, Laila experiences her best days. But as Laila grows older, the future she wants and her reality are nothing alike, and necessity forces both Mariam and Laila’s stories to intertwine.

Everything about A Thousand Splendid Suns from the prose, to the storytelling, to the tragic lives of the protagonists is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve read Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and I absolutely adored it—but A Thousand Splendid Suns, for me, takes the cake. It’s a novel that deals with grieving and loss. It addresses the lives of women in Afghanistan and what their experiences look like. It’s a novel that is both hopeful and hopeless and—oh my God—it’s fantastic. I just couldn’t put it down.

The way that Hosseini tells the story is done in a masterful way. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel that readers can easily get invested in. The story is divided into four parts. The first two are both exposition and detail the lives and backstories of both Mariam and Laila. Mariam’s backstory is touching and heartbreaking. After reading the first portion of her story, I won’t lie when I say that I was reluctant to read about Laila after investing so much of myself into Mariam.

Where Mariam’s backstory is heartbreaking from start to finish, Laila’s is so much more hopeful and innocent. There’s real romance woven into Laila’s backstory that kept me flipping pages, eager to find out what would come next. And when both characters’ lives finally come together, I was on the edge of my seat until the very last page of the novel.

I think that readers everywhere should give A Thousand Splendid Suns a read. The plot is amazing, but the way that Hosseini exposes readers to the experiences of people in a country like Afghanistan is so well-done. Often, people in the Western world don’t take the time to seriously contemplate the day-to-day lives of others in countries that have been ravaged by war and extremist actions. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel that can educate a reader with ease and make it impossible for them to forget the experiences that they’ve been exposed to through the novel.

I would recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns to anyone and everyone. Fans of romance and adventure and tragedy and amazing pieces of literature—they all need to read this book. If you’re a reader, you need to read A Thousand Splendid Suns. There’s nothing else that I can say.

 

About Khaled Hosseini

KH

Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. In 1970 Hosseini and his family moved to Iran where his father worked for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tehran. In 1973 Hosseini's family returned to Kabul, and Hosseini's youngest brother was born in July of that year.
In 1976, when Hosseini was 11 years old, Hosseini's father obtained a job in Paris, France, and moved the family there. They were unable to return to Afghanistan because of the Saur Revolution in which the PDPA communist party seized power through a bloody coup in April 1978. Instead, a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in 1980 they sought political asylum in the United States and made their residence in San Jose, California.
Hosseini graduated from Independence High School in San Jose in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1988. The following year, he entered the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. in 1993. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in 1996. He practiced medicine for over ten years, until a year and a half after the release of The Kite Runner.
Hosseini is currently a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for the foundation was inspired by the trip to Afghanistan that Hosseini made in 2007 with UNHCR.
He lives in Northern California with his wife, Roya, and their two children (Harris and Farah).

 

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