Hello everyone! We hope you’re all doing well. For the month of February the BAME Book Buzz read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini. Here are Junaid and Samera’s thoughts about the book.
There is a reason why I hadn’t read a Khaled Hosseini book before this, despite the hype surrounding his work. A Thousand Splendid Suns is utterly real, raw and heartbreaking.
This story follows the lives of two young women living in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a man who neglected her of a father’s love, and a mother who was unusually bitter and rarely herself. Against her mother’s wish and her own better judgement, Mariam leaves to visit her father, who lives with his wives in a nearby town. From there, her life passes in a flurry of moments and she ultimately finds herself married to an elderly monster of a man in Kabul.
Laila comes from a loving family in Kabul; one that has suffered countless hardships yet persevered in the face of them. But as fate has it, Laila finds herself helpless and alone one day, and brought into Mariam’s household.
The two sister wives are faced with trial after trial at the hands of their heinous husband, and begin to form an unbreakable bond in the wake of the many threats; both, inside the household, as well as externally, from the ongoing onslaught in the city.
This book highlights the atrocious behaviour of monsters inclined to follow their own desires, the hypocrisy of those who attempt to justify their wrongdoings in the name of a religion that only teaches peace, along with everything wrong with hateful men who choose to accuse women, over and over.
This story explored life, love and tribulations in the face of adversity and heartbreak, and the salvation sought in a new Afghanistan, along with the infinite struggles, the bloodshed and the countless injustices inflicted upon innocent women, men and children.
This tale transcends the very definition of hardship, and is deeply moving and intense in its descriptions of both, the good and the bad.
While I disagreed with the portrayal of religion in this story, it is still a beautifully bittersweet story that everyone should pick up at some point.
JunaidIt’s always a pleasure picking up Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and a recommendation I would make to anyone who is looking for a book to really get them excited about reading. The novel follows the story of a few generations of women bound to lives tormented by cultural norms in Afghanistan during the 20th Century. The story is one of empowerment in my eyes and shows the true strength of female persistency in the face of truly great barriers. Hope is stretched and personal devastation is pushed to lengths you wouldn’t wish on anyone. Both Mariam and Laila’s individual stories are incredibly heartbreaking in the face of the gruelling fighting that swept Afghanistan during the mid to late 20th Century as wars waged and the nation underwent vast changes.
I previously read ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ in my early teens and later in high school, so my perspective has changed over time. This time reading the novel, I was acutely aware of the consistent negative portration of Afghanistan and have since done some research to look up other people’s opinions too on the book. According to some other bookstagram accounts and academics I have found online, over recent years there has been a critique of Hosseini’s personal upbringing. Hosseini has apparently had a much more affluent upbringing than the often negative ‘cultural backwards’ Middle Eastern perspective he often showcases within his books.
I would still thoroughly recommend ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, and other books from Hosseini who is no doubt a fantastic writer but would caveat the suggestion that you shouldn’t generalise about the cultural background of Afghanistan based solely on the reading experience of this book. 5/5 Junaid