Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book Review : A Thousand Splendid Suns

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs.
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”

A story of families being wrecked by bombs, lovers torn apart by fighting and of the gross injustice being meted out to women, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a touching, eye opening account of life in war torn Afghanistan.

The story narrates the tale of two Women, Mariam and Laila born in contrasting backgrounds and brought up in divergent circumstances, who are brought together by fate in the cruelest of ways, being forced to marry the same man who is 30 years elder to them, Mariam by her illegitimate father and some 15 years later, Laila who loses both her parents to the Mujahideen.

It depicts the sorry state of women in Afghanistan, forced to wear the burqa, abused, brutalized, prevented from working and fully at the mercy of their husbands and the law. As Afghanistan slides deeper and deeper into anarchy, from King Zahir Shah’s rule to the Soviet War to the infighting within the mujahideen to the rule of the Taliban, it traces the lives of these women from one setback to the next.

The narration is brilliant with Khaled Hosseini conjuring up some stunning sentences like -
“But Laila knew that her future was no match for her brothers’ past. They had overshadowed her in life. They would obliterate her in death. Mammy was the curator of their lives’ museum and she, Laila was a mere visitor. A receptacle for their myths. A parchment on which Mammy meant to ink their legends on”.

It’s not all grim though, the ending shows that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, however deep the tunnel might be and that love is eternal and triumphs over all else, whatever the circumstances. Laila finally unites with her childhood sweetheart and settles down in Afghanistan, which is limping back to normalcy after the US invasion.


  1. Splendid book indeed!....and so is your review as it comes at a time when we see violence against women in our own country. Tell me praseem...isn't it the same as talibanization, with the only difference that the discipline is Hinduism and not Islam??

  2. Totally agree with you Vishwaas, though their religions are different, the ideology is same, suppression of rights of women. All these so called "protectors" of Indian culture, such as the Ram Sene should realise that they are living in a prehistoric age and are not in sync with Today's India vibrant, tolerant and progressive.

    And I wanted to speak to you about another related development, the abject surrender of the Swat region by Pakistan to the Taliban and imposition of Sharia in swat. It seems that the people of the swat region, especially women will have to pay for this
    decsion of the pakistan govt.

  3. check out this link

  4. Amazing review i liked it but i didn't like the book that much i found it became too monotonous after a certain point may be it was because i liked the kite runner a lot and at many places i tried comparing which is i know isn't fair.
    Talking about women rights really its totally neglected in d islamic countries in some parts i felt like stabbing rashid n freedin mariam n laila from his cage..
    well as u mentioned ram sene i wud like to add these are the people who are pulling india backwards india can only develop when people become open minded and accept the equality among man and woman.

  5. I know, the book doesn't make a pretty picture but what has been depicted is the reality, however grim that might be. Kudos to Khalid Hosseini for bringing up this issue to the attention of the world.