A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
Published: May 22, 2007
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover (372 pages)
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years, from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding, that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives, the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness, are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
I’m so glad I read A Thousand Splendid Suns. It made me care so much for the Afghanistan people and their history. I learned about so many things I wasn’t aware of before like the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. I really connected with the women of this country and I empathized with them as they watched the destruction of their heritage and memories. This book also made me realize how inaccurate my views of the people of Afghanistan really were.
I read this for my book club and it made for excellent discussion and reflection on how women are treated. It brought up issues like women not being treated like people, women’s feelings being dismissed or completely ignored, women paying for the mistakes of others (especially men), and the idea that women exist to do things for men (make them food, give them kids etc.). One of the most tragic examples of this was a husband abusing his wife because he didn’t get anything from her. She wasn’t worth anything to him just as a person. He had to gain something from her for him to treat her nicely. There’s a quote from the beginning of the book from a cynical woman that sadly wasn’t far off base from how a lot of the women were treated.
A man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.
-Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, pg 7
There were also positive issues brought up. One women expresses how wearing her burqa makes her feel treasured and prized. I really think a lot of the traditions of how women dress were meant as a show of respect and love but evil people like the Taliban have twisted their traditions into a way to demean women. They took a sacred tradition and twisted it to the opposite purpose. There were also men who really pushed for the education of women and how important it was for their country. The love story in this book beautiful and sad. He was very endearing with how much love and respect her showed the girl he loved. Their love story had a shocking twist that I did not see coming and it had me in tears.
Overall, it was a beautiful book that really opened my eyes to the wonderful people of Afghanistan and their history and how many women are still mistreated today.
Content Rating: Medium, for war violence, domestic abuse, and a few non-graphic sex scenes.