Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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.

About the Author

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat with the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and History at a large high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Afghan Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then Afghanistan had already witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States. In September of 1980, Hosseini's family moved to San Jose, California. Hosseini graduated from high school 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's School of Medicine, where he earned a Medical Degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Hosseini was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.
While in medical practice, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, in March of 2001. In 2003, The Kite Runner, was published and has since become an international bestseller, published in 70 countries. In 2006 he was named a goodwill envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency.  His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns was published in May of 2007. Currently, A Thousand Splendid Suns is published in 60 countries. Khaled has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through The Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The concept for The Khaled Hosseini Foundation was inspired by a trip to Afghanistan Khaled made in 2007 with the UNHCR. He lives in northern California.

Title Source: Kabul by Saib-e-Tabrizi


New York Times 
The Guardian

1 comment:

  1. Fireside Readers do not always choose the latest books to read; we found A Thousand Splendid Suns, first published in 2007, just as stunning today.
    The novel evokes strong emotions as it reveals the “tremendous injustice to women – trapped in a whole culture that entertained such a cruel, inhuman stance toward their sex.” When Miriam takes up the shovel, she knows the consequences that will follow. She commits an act of suicide by saving Laila, the ultimate sacrifice so that Laila and the children may have a life. By standing up to injustice you put your life at risk – you can’t be afraid of death.
    Both women grow through their relationship. Miriam, the dreamer, is forced to face the reality of her world. Laila, the child bride, matures through her grief at Tariq’s death and through the circumstances of her life. The only love that either woman knows is for and from the other.
    Even though the ending brings a hopeful note in that Laila is returning to teach in a girls’ school, the readers are filled with apprehension as we know progress of the Taliban, the odds that the fanatics will return to power and what will happen if that does occur.
    Regarding other broader themes, we found many connections to the lives of women in our own country. There was the pressure to have male sons that is common in so many cultures here. That topic has been put forward today in Canada as it has been suggested that some abortions are being planned based on the sex of the fetus. Do the “suns” of the title refer to male progeny? As well, the subject of honour killings has come into our society as we witnessed the results.
    It is fine for us, with the freedoms we have here, to suggest that Miriam and Laila could have escaped, but we came to realize that in fact there was no escape for them; their plan was na├»ve. For the women of our group, reading A Thousand Splendid Suns makes us feel powerless – what is it that gives that power? The suggestion was made that freedom comes through education. We did get a historical jolt about the evolution of our own culture when works of Shaw, Ibsen and Atwood were mentioned. There is still discrimination toward women in our society – we may be in a different place than Miriam and Laila, but we are on the same road.
    There were some criticisms in terms of both character and plot. There was no consensus regarding these critical comments. First, the characters were not fully developed – perhaps that was because the male author was unable to express the internal lives of the women. Second, (and this received stronger support), elements of the ending were unlikely. The reappearance of Tariq and the explanation for his absence felt contrived. Would Laila, after all that had happened and knowing the culture, have risked going back to Afghanistan taking her children?
    In all, we found A Thousand Splendid Suns a well-written, thought-provoking book – a perfect choice for a book club. The Kite Runner is recommended as a companion book.