Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Narrator: Atossa Leoni
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 432 (audio length: 11 hours 43 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
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.
This book? I cannot even express to you how beautiful and haunting it is.
A few weeks (months?) after reading The Kite Runner, I picked up A Thousand Splendid Suns, thinking that it would be a sort of continuation of Hosseini’s storytelling of the lives of Afghanis. And it was, but it was the same in some ways and very different in others. For starters, this book told the stories of Afghani women in particular, something that is so misunderstood (and misrepresented) by most of us in the West. One of the best qualities of this book was the way in which it painted an intimate and honest portrayal of the struggles of Afghani women before and during the time of the Taliban.
The stories of Mariam and Laila are heartbreaking, but it is through that heartbreak that the reader is able to glean some very important knowledge about the lives of women in Afghanistan, both in the context of the overarching power of the Taliban and the more personal household power wielded by the men in their lives. A Thousand Splendid Suns was terrifying and soul-crushing at the same time that it was uplifting.
And in the end, isn’t that what real life stories are like? There aren’t really any perfect, tidy endings. Real life is messy and complicated, just like this book. And Hosseini does a fabulous job of weaving those stories for us to read.