#BookSnapSunday – A Thousand Splendid Suns

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I am currently rereading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, which is set in Afghanistan and centres on the lives and relationship between two women, Mariam and Laila. Afghanistan is a country I knew little about, apart from war and the Taliban, until I read Hosseini. I have enjoyed several of his books because he gives a human face to Afghanistan, depicting the everyday hopes, dreams and struggles of a people who have experienced “one invader after another.”

In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini particularly shines a spotlight on the lives of women, their hardships but also their ability to endure.

each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke onto tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women like us suffer…How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.

For Mariam and Laila, the suffering they must endure is not of their own making. Mariam is a harami – illegitimate. While her father might call her “his little flower”, Mariam learned…

…that a harami was an unwanted thing; that she, Mariam, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance.

Mariam is forced to endure the shame of illegitimacy, a state not of her own making. While her father’s “legitimate” daughters can aspire to university, Mariam is shunted into an arranged marriage with a much older man, Rasheed. Why is it that Mariam must bear the cost of the sins of her parents? If human rights are indeed inalienable, can a person really be declared illegitimate?

Laila, on the other hand, cherished and loved, has the importance of her education impressed on her by her father.

Marriage can wait, education cannot. You’re a very, very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want, Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over, Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men, maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated Laila. No chance.

But tragedy strikes Laila. Alone and unprotected, she too has little option but to  become Rasheed’s second wife, which ultimately leads to an unlikely friendship with Mariam. However, worse is to come.

When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear.

Yet hope and love prevail almost against all odds.

 

8 thoughts on “#BookSnapSunday – A Thousand Splendid Suns

  1. If you or others haven’t read it (you all probably have quite awhile ago since it came out in 2003), or even if you have, I would heartily recommend Mt. Hosseni’s first novel, The Kite Runner, & yes, I thought the book was far better than the film. I recently re-read it & it gives you a very visceral feel for Kabul during the most difficult times in that city & Afghanistan at the hight of their most contentious time in recent memory and it is expertly done through the eyes of young boy in a masterful piece of storytelling by the author,

    Apologies if this was an earlier Book Bingo pick—I’m only subscribed to Ms. Schoff’s (no relation) Living on the Downs blog, and not until this past year. Yes, just another crazy American sticking his nose into another country!! Actually, if our “President” is re-elected—I’m working on my Aussie accent & calling AU’s Home Office/Secretary & seeing how fast I can change my citizenship. (Applies yet again for being political, but I need people in other countries to know that LOTS of us also think he is one brick shy of a full load.)

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    • Hi Paul, I enjoyed reading The Kite Runner too, as well as And the Mountains Echoed (2013), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie for The Kite Runner. But then, the books are often better than the movies anyway. I agree though that Hosseini does give us westerners a much greater feel for the country and its people than we can ever get from media bites. I think that over the last few years your country’s politics have become very interesting, to say the least, and probably more avidly watched by people around the world than perhaps ever before. So it’s really clear that the US is deeply divided, but then all countries have their divisions. However, we welcome people from across the world to our shores. Will you be bringing some friends?

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  2. Correction: “Hosseini” should have been “Hosseini” & “Applies” should be “Apologies”. Can I blame it on SpellCheck?? Probably not. Just not enough proofreading.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great pick and I love that bit about each snowflake being a sigh. A fascinating country about which I know very little beyond the fact that it has been often invaded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there must be untold aggrieved women across the world. Even though Afghanistan is a country and culture so very different from our own, the same human desires for love, peace, family and home strike a common chord in all of us. Gives a new perspective to snowflakes, even if we don’t see too many of them around here!

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