i know that this is a book that has been out for a few years now, and that has already received a fair share of press and praise. nonetheless, for anyone who wants to learn more about afghanistan, the middle east, or to catch a glimpse into the plight of women in this region, it’s a book i highly recommend.
“A Thousand Splendid Suns” — Khaled Hosseini
books — especially the ones drawn up in the author’s imagination — draw images and create worlds that are often removed from the reader’s own surrounings, or point to moments and specifics within our own lives that we may never have stopped to examine in detail. in this respect, khaled hosseini is a master storyteller, bringing to life — painfully so — the story of the plight of afghan women under the taliban rule, the chaos and disorder of a nation torn by strife and war, and the long-standing ramifications of a society where, “like a compass needle points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.”
i don’t remember the last time a book has made me cry, but this one certainly had me tearing up on more than one occasion. the way that hosseini tugs on the most primitive of human emotions — love, hunger, survival, hope, redemption, friendship, endurance — is enough to make anyone pause and weigh priorities, and is a powerful reflection of the importance of stories. while the ones drawn up in hosseini’s world are fictional, what gives the novel an added jolt is the fact that these tales are rooted in something much deeper and real, and are true shadows of the lives they portray in kabul, herat, and the area’s neighboring regions.
whenever i read a story like this, where the human ability to endure, survive, and carry on is part of the backbone of a main theme, it always reminds me of the chinese character, 忍 — ren, endurance. a knife sitting upon the heart, the strokes of the character is a subtle (or not so subtle reminder) that endurance is long and lasting, that it does not cut through cleanly and swiftly, but rather etches away, bit by bit, just as rasheed’s (one of the characters in the book) behavior slowly carves away at the youth of the women in his life.
About the author: Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, where Hosseini’s father worked with the Afghan Foreign Ministry. Following the coup in 1978, Hosseini’s family sought asylum in San Jose, California, where he would go on to attend Santa Clara University and earn an MD from the University of California, San Diego. His debut novel is The Kite Runner.