This is another wonderfully narrated novel by Khaled Hosseini. For those, who have read his first one, The Kite Runner, and appreciated it, would not be disappointed with this one. It is a great read. Written in his usual story telling manner - where he tells some unbearable events with so ease that they become readable – he tells a lot about human relations and how the will to survive is much bigger that the destiny to perish. This is a novel where at some point of time, you feel like putting the book down and crying our heart out. And for me, it is just a wonderful feeling – there are very few writings which can do this. He also has a way of making Afghanistan very real and its people come live in front of your eyes while you read his books.
“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a female centric novel. It makes the reader feel the plight of women in the conservative societies. It also highlights the impact of civil unrest on women specially. The story begins in 1964, ends in 2003, spanning over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the defeat and withdrawal of the Russians that led to the warlords in-fighting, followed by the rise of the Taliban, and ending with the beginning of democratic rule in which the warlords are given legitimate posts in the government. It is primarily set in Kabul with some early incidents in Herat and later ones in Pakistan. It traces the life of two women, alternating between their points of views. First one, Mariam is from Herat, born as an illegitimate country girl to a wealthy businessman, married to a 30 years older Pashtun man in Kabul, and unable to conceive a child (victim of domestic violence due to that). Second one, Laila is a Tajik from Kabul itself, born to a literate family, looses her family in a rocket attack & brothers fighting for freedom over Soviets, and agrees to become second wife of Mariam’s husband due to his extremely calculated manipulations. The two of them, are initially repulsive to each other. But in due time, they gain each other’s sympathy and trust, and become inseparable. After living their lives like rats, as an act of desperation, Mariam kills her husband, allows Laila to run away to Pakistan with her true teenage love along with her kids, and goes to hell as per Taliban’s law. After Taliban’s fall, Laila comes back to Herat & Kabul to pay visit to Mariam’s place and starts a new life in Kabul working among kids affected due to civil war & Taliban rule.
It is an extremely moving piece of writing – well narrated. It is surely worth a read.