A Thousand Splendid Suns – Book Review

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

While I was reading The Kite Runner, I wondered how much pain the author himself had to go through in his life to write this story? Its said that you can’t understand the pain of another human if you have not been through the same situation yourself. Each and every word of The Kite Runner made me realize how much pain and anger must be pent up inside the author. And then I read “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. The Kite Runner was not a book and neither is A Thousand Splendid Suns. They are outlets, vents to tell the world about what happened to the Nation which was once so prosperous and happy. They are outlets for people to know the story of a nation destroyed by its own people.

The story revolves around Mariam and Laila. Mariam is an unwanted child born out of wedlock and lives with her mother in the outskirts of Herat in Afghanistan. Her wealthy father visits her at times. When Mariam is 15 she visits her father’s home against everyone’s wishes. She ends up being married to Rasheed, a widower in Kabul who expects a son from her. When she fails to deliver a baby, she is faced with verbal and physical abuses. Laila, on the other hand, is the daughter of a High school teacher. She had two brothers who are killed in the fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Laila is in love with Tariq, her childhood friend. Things take a bad turn when the civil war comes to Kabul after the victory of the Mujahideen and Tariq leaves Kabul with his parents and Laila is left pregnant and an orphan after her parents are killed in a rocket attack. She lands up in Rasheed’s house and agrees to marry Rasheed for the sake of the child. Mariam is now in Rasheed’s house for more than a decade now and resents Laila but fate has something else in store for the two women.

The most beautiful part of this book is the way the relationship develops between Mariam and Laila. By the time Laila becomes a part of the household, Mariam has endured too much at the hands of Rasheed to bear his second wife. Soon after Laila gives birth to Tariq’s daughter, both the women realise that they are sailing in the same boat. The book is also a story of a nation in transition. It encompasses the political upheavals and what the people went through when the Russians finally left. It tells the story of a beautiful dream which turned into a nightmare. If Hassan was the unforgettable character in The Kite Runner, then Mariam’s doleful life will leave a lump in your throat in this book. And there was one feeling that never left me while I read the book – This could have happened to someone…

Comparisons with Khaled’s earlier book is inevitable and I agree that A Thousand Splendid Suns does not have those kind of twists and turns but it has the same quality which The Kite Runner had. It turns you into a more compassionate, a more understanding and a more humane human. It makes you understand that you are blessed in every sense. And, it makes you understand that there are people out there who deserve a life similar to yours.

Rating – 4.5/5

Author – Khaled Hosseini

37 comments on “A Thousand Splendid Suns – Book Review

  1. i want to read this real badly!!! but it is just too costly,especially since i read any book only once….damn i don’t care i am going to burn a hole in my pocket…and as you said the author must have gone through a lot!!

  2. Khaled Hosseini is one heck of a writer…..i have read the kite runner…….. this is one of those books which help us appreciate the value of our democracy……… thinks which our generation takes for granted……..the author actual makes us think…….

    nice review…….

  3. A Book review by Amit !!

    4.5/5 for this Book ?? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    Will 100% read this for sure !!

    I LOVED the Kite Runner too. Its true when you say thats its not ‘just a book’.

  4. Nice review Amit. You are making me feel sad by giving such good ratings. Here no Engish books are available and I want to read tons of books after coming to India. I really missed reading here man ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  5. Add one more to my pending list.

    I think I’ve stumbled upon a reader’s block in terms of fiction ( no fiction for the last month, kite runner at page 15 for 2 months ๐Ÿ˜ฆ )

    Have you read ‘Keep of the Grass’. I’m thinking of it before getting back to the kite runner.

  6. I have read both the books….and that makes me a diehard fan of Khaled Hossini. I think khaled Hossini is the best story teller when it comes to the genre of human emotions…however, I would say..I liked “Kite Runner” more than “A Thousand splendid Suns”…A very good review by Amit here….and that gives you all another reason to read this book…a master piece by Khaled…..!!!

  7. @Vishesh : Hey, you can always buy pirated versions. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And, yes I agree the book is a little expensive.
    @Sachin : Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ His books always make me wonder what the world has come to.
    @Reema : Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I already told you. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    @Xylene : Do tell me how it was once you finish it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Priya : Well…err..I have done a few book reviews earlier. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thanks. ๐Ÿ˜€ Its a book soaked in reality.
    @Vijaya Bharat : There are no English books there? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I don’t understand. We have English books in India even though its not our mother tongue. ๐Ÿ˜
    @Anand : I was not able to put down The Kite Runner once I crossed the first page. ๐Ÿ™‚ And, yes, I have heard of “Keep Off the grass”, but haven’t read it. Is it good?
    @Praveen Sharma : Thanks Praveen. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, Khaled is one of the most gifted writers of our times.
    @Prarthana : Yes. I agree completely. ๐Ÿ™‚ And welcome to the blog.

  8. hey amit awesome review yaar….its the same feeling i had after reading the book….the last para of ur review….jus i could have never found these words to express myself…

  9. Nice, I liked A Thousand Splendid Suns too. Though I thought it did get a little gory in the part where Rasheed actually makes Mariam eat stones but I guess that was essential to build the characters. And yes, you’re right about the most beautiful thing in this book. The other thing was the relationship between Laila and Tariq. And I also found the character of Mammy very interesting. I think the thing about Hosseini is that he can manage to completely engross the reader. You feel sad where he wants to make you feel sad etc. I was sad that Mariam died, and in that fashion. I thought they would sentence her to some years and eventually leave her and then Laila would come to meet her and take her along. But maybe that’s just me, I’m too used to happy endings thanks to Bollywood.

    Btw, been watching a lot of Steven Spielberg, haven’t we? I tried watching the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The print was so bad that I actually managed to fall asleep within 15 minutes. It wasn’t looking very exciting either.

  10. @Ruhi : Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜€ Hosseini has become too commercial?? How? Tell me. Tell me. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Asmita : Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜€ I think you explain things quite well. Remember that walk from Cafe Coffee day to the villa?? ๐Ÿ˜€
    @Nova : Thanks Nova. ๐Ÿ˜€
    @Nita : Am I getting serious?? Well, I think I am in that mode right now. ๐Ÿ˜€ Have to cook up something weird now.
    @Ish : His books leave me really sad mainly because they are real. They are about real people. I always feel that there is too much reality in his books. And, about Mariam, I knew that she would be dead soon but I was praying that she should not be stoned. I would not have been able to take that.
    And, yes, I was doing the Indiana Jones homework before watching the latest one. And its really good. You should watch it in a theatre. A.I. dekhi hai? I liked it very much.

  11. @Ish the torrent i downloaded had nice print. U download from mininova? and Actually the warehouse shown in the beginning has a link to 1st movie. U will find DVDRips by axxo of part 1 to 3..dont watch part 2 (ugh read my review in my blog).

    @Amit have u seen I, Robot? its a very good movie.

  12. Awesome! Just awesome! This review is too good, man! And those quotes in the beginning! I absolutely love Hosseini! ๐Ÿ™‚
    The kite runner was just out of this world! I havent read this one yet… But will do shortly!

  13. I happened to read both the books. I totally agree by your views that “these are not just books but actually vents to tell the world about what happened to the Nation which was once so prosperous and happy.”:(

    The thought of all the brutalities faced by the characters as described in the book leaves you in a very uncomfortable state.It really left a deep emotional affect on me.

    Also, you are very right on judging that thousand splendid suns lacks the kind of twists and turns that Kite Runner has.

  14. Amit, what makes you think that writer has been suffering and thats why he wrote the book.

    Not all authors who write such poignant books feel the same, some have instinct to understand what would bother a reader. I am not making any aspersions on Khalid Hosseini. The Kite Runner had more of him than Thousand Splendid Suns. Latter could be called a an insider’s story about women. He merely recounted the story as third party which was not the case with the Kite Runner.

    I found Thousand Splendid Suns largely a depressing book, though I agree it was a compelling read. There are some violent scenes that played in my mind. The light came only in the end with a sacrifice. I would rate it only 3.

  15. Here every thing is in Spanish only man. Actually these people hate that language. Very few can talk and read the language that too because they might have gone to other countries for some purpose. Full educational system is in Spanish, so these are little aware of English. As Spanish is very established in two continents, these are not having any opportunity or wish to learn that language like us. May be we also aware of English this much because ours is a British colony.

  16. I do not know the relevance of posting this comment here, but just want to say that this blog is amazing. I was looking for some information on Vizag/Araku in Google, a few weeks back, and ended up to this wonder land. I have been reading this blog and a few others’ too since then. Quite amazing!! I created a blog (@ blogspot)for myself 2 years back and never updated it since then. All you guys are an inspiration!! :)So I will soon come up with a blog in “wordpress” and tag all you guys again!!!!

    One more thing…I started reading “The Kite Runner” sometime last year and somehow never completed it beyond 14 pages. IT jobs, I say!!! I was planning to continue reading since then but the problem lied in the fact that I was only always planning. Amit’s review of the book said..”Read it, if you still havenโ€™t, you fools!!!
    “. This definitely intrigued me.. :).. and here I am with the book in my hand..Completed close to 110 pages…Amazing one!! I was teary-eyed when Hassan and Ali left Kabul.Why is that only true love/friendship is always tested? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  17. @Reema : Yup, I have seen I, Robot. Really liked it. All such movies really amaze me as they are the ultimate examples of how much creative the human mind is.
    @Nikhil : Thanks a lot. ๐Ÿ˜€ Yes, The Kite Runner was one of its kind. Read this one soon. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Joel : Thanks Joel. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Withering Willows : Thanks a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, its not as pacy or unputdownable as The Kite Runner but still its a class of its own.
    @Poonam : Ummm….I didn’t mean that the writer was suffering. What I meant was that he must have witnessed a part of that brutality or must have known people who had gone through the pain. He was in Afganistan for a part of his life. I think these two books are much too deep rooted than what meets the eye. And I would really meet him and ask him that how much of him was in the book. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Idlidosa : Go ahead then. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Vijaya Bharat : Oops!! You should have taken some books from here. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Anand : Yes, the cover is good. I agree. ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Maddie : Ok. Will do. ๐Ÿ˜€
    @Manoj : Thanks a lot Manoj. ๐Ÿ˜€ I am really honored. And, you are in IT? Me too. :mrgreen: And yes, it gets really hectic and god knows how many unread posts are there right now in my feed. And good that you have started reading the book. It would change something inside you.
    And, there is a saying – The people you love are taken away from you too soon, and the one you hate never leave. ๐Ÿ˜ That is the golden rule of the Gods. ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. The best part of the book is it involves you.Personally, I was not able to keep it down till i reached the last page and read the last line.Your heart prays all the while for Laila and Tariq when they start off together…
    Immensely readable and so like and yet unlike Kite Runner

  19. @whisperingthoughts : Exactly my sentiments. And I was so sad when Mariam died. I was hoping that a miracle would happen but knew inside that this was it for her.
    @RJ : Thanks RJ. You are reading It happened in India??

  20. @Amit – Yea! It happened in India – I am a bit slow with catching up books, dunno why! Just a few days back finished 5 pt someone ๐Ÿ˜›

  21. I am done. I had lots of work and cudnt read the book for last 2 weeks..
    Its good. although like u mentioned, it doesn’t have the kind of twists as in kite runner. But a good read though !

  22. @RJ : Oops! Missed this one. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have not read this book but I have heard about it. And even I was not able to read much either but now my long traveling hours provide me ample time. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    @Xylene : Ha!! Same here but somehow my traveling provides me a lot of time. But my blogging is suffering. ๐Ÿ˜

  23. Pingback: A Thousand Splendid Suns « the light shines the brightest

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