Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

This book was beautiful. It was very informative about the recent history of Afghanistan, within the context of the story. By the end of the novel I was crying so hard Tim kept asking me if I was okay- from the next room!

Every time I read a book set in a place like Afghanistan, India, Africa, etc., I am struck anew by how blessed and spoiled we are in the Western world. I have never been on the verge of starvation or had to live in a war torn land or been forced to become a refugee from my country. I appreciate that I can travel to other cities and cultures through books and come back to view my life with a better perspective. That's what this book did for me (as did The Poisonwood Bible and Red Letters, among others.).

This is from Publishers Weekly:

Afghan-American novelist Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny—"There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten"—is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters.

I highly recommend it. The pages flew by and when I put it down I was eager to pick it up again. I haven't read The Kite Runner yet, but I can't imagine that it's better than this.


1 comment:

  1. i just watched the movie "kiterunner" and a friend of mine was telling me about this very book.

    the movie spoke to me deeply. i can imagine the book would be even more powerful.